ANAHEIM, Calif. – Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia says there was a plan for the spring of Shohei Ohtani, and now we are seeing the final result.
That plan was clearly to lull the rest of baseball into a false sense of security.
After arriving from Japan In the midst of huge publicity, the double-track star quickly deflated expectations by taking a spectacular fall in the Cactus League. He hit .125. His effectiveness was 27:00 laughable. Questions arose about whether he would make the team or start the season in the minors.
It was just a show, hey.
The real Ohtani seems to have materialized in the first 11 days of the season, and he has been a sight to behold.
In Sunday's first start against local fans, who added 44,742, the biggest crowd for a one-day game since Angel Stadium was renovated in 1998, Ohtani made an exit that made Scioscia say, "That was a game as good as you could see thrown. "
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Of course, he's only been in the majors as a player or manager for 32 years.
A week after Ohtani won his first Major League victory by keeping the Oakland Athletics three hits and three runs in six innings, they had another chance and were left empty. As in no runner and 11 strikeouts in the first six innings, conjuring thoughts of a rookie throwing a perfect game in his second major league start.
It did not happen. Marcus Semien's only single in the seventh ended the suspense in what ended up as a 6-1 Angels victory, and Ohtani settled for seven brilliant one-innings, with one foot and 12 strikeouts.
At one point, Ohtani retired 33 of 34 athletics between the two starts. He struck out 18 and walked two while producing four hits.
The rest of the league is under notice.
"If you are hitting your points, you are going to have a really difficult time." with him, "said Athletic outfielder Matt Joyce, who represented Oakland's only career with a home run in the ninth inning against Felix Pena, but went 3-3 against Ohtani.
"But it's a game of adjustments, the big leagues is the top level and these guys can make adjustments like that, the next time we see it we'll make some adjustments and hopefully we'll have a bit better of a game. He's going to be very successful, obviously, he's been doing it on both sides of the ball and he's an exciting player for baseball. "
Oh, yes, there's that other part of the game in which Ohtani has been pretty good so far this season. By becoming the Angels' only rookie who homered in his first three home games last week, he took over the team lead in batting average (.389) and slugging percentage in base and slugging (1,310) while sharing the top honors of home runs (three)
Friday's shot was a 449-foot explosion that landed on the source part of the artificial rock formation beyond the central field fence.
"It was noisy," said Semien. "The guys on his team talk about how much he hits the ball in BP (batting practice), his brute power, he showed it out there. & # 39; & # 39;
It's worth mentioning that Ohtani is only 18 At-bats, which is not just a small sample, is very small, and because the Angels do not want to lose the designated hitter in their American League starts, and he sits the day before and after pitching, Ohtani he does not give up more than four times a week.
In addition, his two starts have been against an Oakland team that, although has powerful batters, has finished last in the American West in each of the Last three seasons and it is projected to return to the rear.
But suddenly, the search for Ohtani the first great player to throw and strike regularly in almost a century does not seem so quixotic.
The so-called Babe Ruth of Japan can already claim to match the Bambino in one aspect o: he is the first player in quad in three consecutive games during a season in which he made a pitching from the Babe in 1930.
"Especially with how was my spring training, I really was not imagining being so good in this place & # 39; & # 39; said Ohtani after marking his second win and lowers his effectiveness to 2.08. "I feel better every day, it's only the first week, everything went well, there will be a wall somewhere, once I hit that wall, it's when I have to start working harder and find out what I have to do to overcome it. 39; & # 39 ;.
That wall came very fast in Ohtani at the beginning.Despite his batting practice exploits, he did not get extra base hits in 32 Cactus League at-bats, so during the games of the Freeway series exhibition against the Los Angeles Dodgers at the end of March, revealed a different fighting style, abandoning the kick he used throughout his career in Japan for an aiming stroke that has allowed him to launch better pitching.
] It's the kind of major change that can take months to implement some of the hitters, but Ohtani, while attending to his pitching duties, puts it into practice in a matter of days or weeks, a sign of the analytical mind Scioscia has noticed.
] " I have changed my form of batting during the season in the past. I think everyone does that & # 39; & # 39; said Ohtani with disdain. "I will try different things to find the right feeling."
When Ohtani decided to try his luck in the major leagues, Japan's exploration reports indicated he was more likely to succeed as a pitcher, considering his repertoire includes a fastball that hits 100 mph, a perverse divisor – the throwing that the Oakland hitters rocked for much of Sunday – along with a tight slider and a slow curve of change of pace.
But the A's have seen it more than any other opponent, they're not so sure now what part of their game is more advanced. They marvel at both their pitching and their punches.
Maybe the Angels' catcher, Martin Maldonado, expressed it better, saying: "It never looks like it's out of place." He looks like a batter when he's hitting and he looks like a pitcher when he throws. Is awesome. We have not seen that before & # 39;