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Angels star Shohei Ohtani sees pitchers making adjustments against him

Saying his acclimation is "still in progress," Shohei Ohtani acknowledged he isn't entirely sure yet how to hit big-league pitching.

Makes you wonder what he might be capable of doing when he has a better grasp of the situation.

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Ohtani, who batted fourth as the Angels' designated hitter Friday, entered the game with a .354 average, 1.077 on-base-plus-slugging percentage and five home runs. He was 10th on the team with 65 at-bats but tied for fourth in homers and fifth with 16 RBIs.

"It's just a matter of going out there and seeing pitchers, gaining the experience," manager Mike Scioscia said. "He's doing a good job."

Ohtani, with a single Friday, has hit safely in 15 of his first 17 starts as a batter. He has only two 0-for-4s. He also had his first successful pinch-hitting appearance this week, singling at Colorado on Wednesday.

The matter of his adjustments and his progress came up after he homered and doubled Thursday in the Angels' 7-4 victory over Minnesota, the hits coming on pitches that moved to the outside edge of the plate.

"Earlier in the year, I feel like they were throwing me inside a lot more than now," Ohtani said through an interpreter. "I was still able to hit the ball pretty well … so maybe they're trying to test pitching me away."

Ohtani's next pitching start is scheduled for Sunday in the finale of this four-game series. It will be Ohtani's third home start, following seven, one-hit innings against Oakland on April 8 and two, blister-impacted innings against Boston on April 17.

Middleton has 'bad night' in return

Keynan Middleton's return was a bit choppy Thursday as he walked two and gave up a double.

"I just didn't make the pitches I wanted to make," the Angels' save leader said Friday. "I think it was just a bad night. There will be better nights."

Middleton (elbow inflammation) made one rehab appearance at triple-A Salt Lake before rejoining the Angels from the 10-day disabled list.

Short hops

Nick Tropeano (shoulder inflammation) is expected to come off the disabled list Saturday to start against Minnesota. …The next step for reliever Blake Wood (elbow impingement) could be a rehab assignment, Scioscia said. Wood has been on the DL since April 23. … Albert Pujols didn't start Friday as the Angels are early in a stretch of 29 games in 30 days.

Follow Jeff Miller on Twitter @JeffMillerMLB

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