TEMPE, Ariz. — Two-way star Shohei Ohtani had a solid spring training debut on the mound Monday, striking out five while giving up one run over 2⅓ innings for the Los Angeles Angels.
Last year’s American League MVP was sharp in the first, getting a called strike on his first pitch to Kansas City’s Kyle Isbel and then earning the strikeout by blowing a high fastball past the left fielder three pitches later.
The right-hander retired seven of the 11 hitters he faced. Edward Olivares hit a one-out single and JaCoby Jones was hit by a pitch in the second. The Royals scored their run in the third when Isbel’s sinking line drive got past a diving Brandon Marsh for a triple. Olivares drove him in with an RBI single up the middle, which ended Ohtani’s afternoon.
Ohtani threw 50 pitches, including 33 strikes. He was expected to throw about 45 pitches.
Ohtani, 27, is trying to duplicate one of the most productive and unique seasons in MLB history. The 6-foot-4, 210-pounder turned into one of the game’s best pitchers and hitters on the way to earning unanimous MVP honors.
Ohtani’s spring progress — especially because of the abbreviated schedule due to the lockout — will be watched closely since he has arguably the most unique role in baseball.
After three years of stops and starts due to injuries and caution, the Angels finally unleashed Ohtani last season, allowing him to be a full-time hitter and pitcher with few restrictions. The production was stunning: He was one of the game’s most feared power hitters with 46 homers, 26 doubles and eight triples, throwing in 26 stolen bases for good measure.
He was also outstanding on the mound, finishing with a 9-2 record and 3.18 ERA in 23 starts, striking out 156 batters in 130⅓ innings.
Ohtani’s amazing individual season wasn’t able to lift the Angels to the playoffs in 2021. The team finished with a 77-85 record.