Shohei Ohtani shows flashes of 99-mph dominance in Angels’ spring loss

Angels pitcher Shohei Ohtani throws against the Oakland Athletics.
Angels pitcher Shohei Ohtani throws against the Oakland Athletics during a spring training game on March 5.
(Matt York / Associated Press)

The Angels lost 6-5 to the Chicago White Sox in a spring-training game Saturday at Camelback Ranch.

ON THE MOUND: During Shohei Ohtani’s second start of the spring Saturday, there were moments when the two-way star looked unhittable.

He fanned reigning American League most valuable player José Abreu with a splitter in the dirt. He induced three straight whiffs from Yoán Moncada with a fastball, splitter and slider. He topped out at 99 mph with his fastball in his final at-bat against Yermin Mercedes. And when he put Mercedes away with a hard-breaking curveball, the White Sox catcher pointed back at Ohtani in respect, making the pitcher laugh before he exited the mound.

But Ohtani got in trouble too. He had inconsistent command, throwing only 33 strikes (eight of which were put in play) in 58 pitches. He surrendered a long home run to Luis Robert after hanging a breaking ball. And over 2 1/3 innings, he gave up six hits, one walk and five runs with four strikeouts.

Nonetheless, Ohtani said through his interpreter that he “felt really good” Saturday and liked being able to face many of the White Sox regulars. He thought his execution was sharper in leverage situations with men on base. And he said he focused on throwing more curveballs.


“It’s all about fastball command,” Angels manager Joe Maddon said. “As he finds that, he’s gonna really take off. The other stuff is outstanding.”

L.A. and Orange counties moved into the red tier of coronavirus guidelines, allowing the Dodgers and Angels to sell 20% of seats in their ballparks.

March 12, 2021

ADELL EXITS: Outfield prospect Jo Adell exited Saturday’s game for precautionary reasons, according to the team, after crashing hard into the center-field wall during the second inning. After the game, Maddon said the trainers checked Adell out and believe he will be fine.

EXTRA BASES: Left-handed reliever Alex Claudio threw a scoreless inning in his first Cactus League game with the Angels, striking out one. Right-handed relievers Jesse Chavez and Chris Rodriguez also gave up no runs in 1 1/3 and two innings, respectively. Left-hander Reid Detmers surrendered a leadoff home run but then retired his next three batters.

UP NEXT: Dylan Bundy is set to pitch when the Angels face the Chicago Cubs in Mesa, Ariz., on Sunday. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05 p.m. PDT. TV: Fox Sports West. Radio: AM 830.