Angels pitcher Richard adds to arsenal with effective curve

Garrett Richards threw the Dodgers a curve Wednesday.

In fact, he threw them a bunch of curves, and nearly all the pitches were effective.

Seven strikeouts later, the Angels right-hander was feeling confident in the expanded repertoire he’s building for the regular season.

“Throwing that pitch for strikes kind of sets up an entire at-bat for me,” Richards said. “I think today showed what the capabilities are if I can get that curveball over.”


Along with his strikeouts, Richards permitted the Dodgers only two hits in his four-inning start. He gave up a single to Joc Pederson and a double to Logan Forsythe in back-to-back at-bats.

Other than that, he dominated the Dodgers, largely because of his ability to locate his rediscovered curveball in and around the strike zone.

“I just know that’s a pitch that’s going to help me out a whole lot,” Richards said, “not only starting guys off with it, but it’s a put-away pitch, too.”

He has always had the curve. It’s just that, Richards explained, he tended to abandon it when the pitch wasn’t working. More and more, he drifted away from using it.

This spring, he has focused on throwing the curveball more regularly, a few slight adjustments to his delivery allowing him to become more consistent with it.

“Really, it’s just about opening up my possibilities about what I can do,” Richards said. “I don’t have to be fastball-, slider-reliable anymore.”

Not only did he start and finish off a few Dodgers with his curveball, he also doubled-up on a couple of hitters.

“If I get two curveballs over for strikes, I still have three pitches they haven’t seen in that at-bat,” he said. “I’ll take that any day.”

Kershaw wins first round vs. Ohtani

There was no language barrier this time. Shohei Ohtani’s look spoke fluent baseball after he watched Clayton Kershaw’s curveball masterfully end his third-inning at-bat.

In what had to be one of the most-anticipated plate appearances in Tempe Diablo Stadium history, Ohtani struck out looking against the Dodgers ace.

As he exited the batter’s box, Ohtani looked back at umpire Bill Miller, clearly still not convinced the ball was a strike.

“It was a pretty borderline pitch,” Ohtani explained later, this time speaking through his interpreter. “I thought it was kind of low, so I decided to take it. But it was too close to take. Next time, I’ll at least try to foul it off.”

That was the only matchup between the two, Ohtani later grounding into a double play against Brian Schlitter before being lifted. He is now 1-for-11 and hitless in his past 10 at-bats this spring.

Ohtani began Wednesday by throwing a bullpen session, the Angels then allowing him to bat in three consecutive games for the first time. He said such a workload was not unusual when he played in Japan.

Ohtani’s next appearance will come Friday when he returns to the mound to start a “B” game against the Mexican League Tijuana Toros at noon (Arizona time) at Tempe Diablo Stadium.

Despite striking out, he spoke highly of the chance Wednesday to face one of baseball’s best pitchers.

“I’ve been watching Kershaw pitch on TV a lot,” Ohtani said. “Of course, it felt a lot different actually standing at the plate against him. It is a spring training game, but it was somewhat of a special moment.”

Calhoun happy for Cron

What could have been a typically sleepy start to spring training instead was a jolt for Kole Calhoun.

Even before the Angels’ first official full-squad workout, he was being forced to adjust to the sudden absence of C.J. Cron after his good buddy was traded to Tampa Bay.

“It was tough,” Calhoun said. “But it’s going to be the best thing for him, from a friend standpoint. He can go there and get a full season’s worth of at-bats. It’s going to be good for him. I’m happy for him.”

Calhoun and Cron both attended high school in the Phoenix area. They spent much of the offseason working out together.

During those training sessions, they occasionally discussed the Angels’ roster situation, particularly as it related to Cron.

“We kind of had a jam there at first base,” Calhoun said. “There were some veteran guys there ahead of him. It (the trade) made a lot of sense.”

The Angels dealt Cron to the Rays for a player to be named Feb. 17. With Albert Pujols and Luis Valbuena expected to play first base, there was no clear spot for Cron.

In his first 14 spring at-bats for Tampa Bay, Cron had five hits, including a home run.

Tropeano has good outing

Nick Tropeano pitched the equivalent of three innings in a “B” game Wednesday morning and reported no issues physically.

He gave up five runs and two walks against Colorado. The right-hander is coming back from elbow ligament replacement surgery.