Shohei Ohtani went 0 for 3 on Tuesday in his second game as the Angels’ designated hitter.
Now comes the challenging part.
Given his schedule, he’s not likely to bat in another game until Sunday, bringing into question how he’ll maintain his swing with so much downtime.
“It was the same thing in Japan,” he said, speaking through an interpreter. “Hit for a while. Not hit for a while. The only thing I’ve been doing is taking BP [batting practice] as much as I can. That’s the way I stay in rhythm.”
Overcoming a lack of consistent playing time on offense will be one of the major obstacles as Ohtani tries to become a member of the starting rotation and a regular contributor with his bat.
It is generally accepted that one of the more difficult jobs in baseball is being a bench player expected to provide offense, which is the position Ohtani will be in this season.
Facing Colorado on Tuesday, he struck out looking, flied to right field and grounded into a fielder’s choice, leaving him one for four with two walks in two exhibition games.
“I was able to put some good swings on the ball,” Ohtani said. “I think it was productive.”
He’s scheduled to focus on his pitching Wednesday when he throws a bullpen session.
Ohtani is set to make his next start on the mound Friday at 10 a.m. in a “B” game in Maryvale against the Milwaukee Brewers.
The Angels have a Cactus League home game Friday at noon against the Chicago Cubs, a game Garrett Richards will start.
The environment of a “B” game will allow the Angels to better control the conditions since innings can be ended at any time. The plan is to have Ohtani work the equivalent of three innings and throw 45-50 pitches.
These games are a common spring-training practice, teams simply agreeing to get together to play mainly for the benefit of pitchers trying to build arm strength.
They typically are free and open to the public.
As for Ohtani specifically, he was asked Tuesday whether he’s starting to feel like a genuine member of the Angels.
“I don’t really feel like I’m a major leaguer until opening day,” he said. “These are just exhibition games.”
Albert Pujols plays
Slowly now, the Angels are starting to resemble the Angels expected to open the 2018 season.
Albert Pujols became the first everyday regular other than catcher Martin Maldonado to appear in a spring-training game, playing three innings at first base against the Rockies.
Pujols, who arrived in camp notably leaner having had a healthy offseason to train, flied out deep to center field and lined out to third base before exiting.
Manager Mike Scioscia said more Angels regulars will make their spring debuts Wednesday against Cleveland at Tempe Diablo Stadium.