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Angels’ Shohei Ohtani shows improvement in second training camp start

Angels pitcher Shohei Ohtani throws to the plate during an intrasquad game on Monday at Angel Stadium.
Angels pitcher Shohei Ohtani pitches during an intrasquad game in the restart of training camp on Monday at Angel Stadium.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)

A 3 1/3-inning, 60-pitch, one-run, two-hit effort in which he walked four, hit a batter and struck out one qualified as progress for Angels right-hander Shohei Ohtani on Monday.

The two-way standout, who was unable to pitch because of Tommy John surgery last season, walked seven and threw six wild pitches in three innings of his first intrasquad start last week. He retired the first five batters he faced Monday before his command wavered.

“I felt much better than last time, performance-wise and command-wise,” Ohtani said through an interpreter. “I’m not overly concerned about the four walks. I was ahead in the counts on a lot of them and couldn’t locate that third strike.

“I need to work on my mechanics, especially with my secondary stuff. I felt I had pretty good command of my fastball, but I was yanking my breaking ball a bit.”

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Manager Joe Maddon said it’s difficult to evaluate Ohtani in a scrimmage-like setting.

“He was a little bit better today than the last time, he had a little better command, so it was a step forward,” Maddon said. “I still think once we get a real game going on, with or without fans, you’re gonna see another level from him. I think he needs a little adrenaline to get going.”

Unfriendly skies

A controversial call that costs a team a game on a getaway day this season could lead to some awkward moments in the air that evening.

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Maddon confirmed that Major League Baseball has spoken to teams about having umpires fly on team charters as a safety measure against the coronavirus.

“Who knows? It might make for a better relationship between umpires and players and managers,” Maddon said. “This is a time when you can’t worry about the way we had done things in the past. If it gets the umpires there more safely, in that kind of controlled environment, it makes all the sense in the world.

San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey says he will not play this season in order to protect the health of his family amid the coronavirus crisis.

“I know that there’s potential for a bad moment, but under the circumstances, I understand why they’re considering it.”

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Short hops

The Angels started several half-innings Monday with a runner on second base in preparation for baseball’s new extra-innings rule. In one of those situations, David Fletcher scored from second on a sacrifice fly to deep center field. “He does everything with intent … never takes a moment off,” Maddon said. “He’s out here in this kind of game, and in every situation, he’s locked in. … Garrett Stallings, a right-handed pitcher who was a fifth-round pick last year, was added to the 60-man player pool. … Intrasquad games will be moved to the evening beginning Wednesday so the Angels can better acclimate to the regular-season schedule.


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