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‘He’s just a jokester’: Shohei Ohtani performs CPR on his bat in Angels’ dugout

Shohei Ohtani stands and smiles in the dugout as he waits to hit.
Shohei Ohtani had some laughs in the dugout Monday night against the Miami Marlins at Angel Stadium.
(Mark J. Terrill / Associated Press)
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Some players who are struggling at the plate will punctuate a strikeout or popup by snapping their bat in half over their knee. Not Shohei Ohtani, who must have taken some kind of Hippocratic Oath to do no harm to his lumber.

The Angels’ two-way star, who has gotten off to a sluggish start to 2022, opted for a more healing approach during Monday night’s game against the Miami Marlins — performing CPR on his bat during the sixt inning, proper two-hand compressions and all, in the dugout, much to the delight of teammates.

“I loved it,” Angels first baseman Jared Walsh said Tuesday. “And I also love that ... I don’t want to speak for him, but it seems like he’s gotten really comfortable in the U.S. playing. I don’t know if we would have seen that in 2018. So I think it’s cool that the fans are getting to see his personality like we do.”

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Said catcher Kurt Suzuki: “That was a pretty good one. That was pretty funny. He’s just a jokester like that. It’s nice to see him loose and having fun, stuff like that.”

Ohtani, the reigning American League most valuable player, is batting .143 (three for 21) with no homers, one double, no RBIs, five strikeouts and no walks entering Tuesday afternoon’s game against the Marlins.

Did the fact that he was able to make light of his slow start as opposed to expressing more outward displays of frustration send a message to the team?

“No question about it,” Walsh said. “I mean, what you don’t realize before you play in the major leagues is that everybody struggles. I’ve seen Mike [Trout] go through some rough patches. If you can handle it like [Ohtani] and have fun with it, knowing that the good times are going to come, the bad times are going to come, then you crack the code.”

The Angels have no doubt that Ohtani’s bat will be revived. The slugger batted .257 with a .965 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, 46 homers, 26 doubles, three triples, 100 RBIs, 103 runs and 26 stolen bases last season, and he’s too good of a hitter to struggle for long.

Shohei Ohtani put on an MVP encore in the Angels’ season opening loss to the Astros, showcasing an enduring 99-mph fastball and brimming confidence.

April 7, 2022

He also hit the hardest ball of his career against the Houston Astros on Sunday, a 119.1-mph laser that one-hopped the right-field wall for a ground-rule double, so he appears to be reclaiming his timing.

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“I mean, he’s only played five games,” Suzuki said. “You’re gonna go through stretches during the season where you struggle for 10 games, you know? So, five days really doesn’t mean anything. Obviously, he wants to get off to a good start, but you have one good game and you’re back up to .300 again.

“I don’t think there’s any stress. He knows how good he is. We all know how good he is. It’s just a matter of time.”

Short hops

The Angels put shortstop David Fletcher on the 10-day injured list because of a left hip strain before Tuesday’s game and recalled infielder Andrew Velazquez from triple-A Salt Lake. Fletcher departed Monday night’s game in the seventh inning because of the injury. Velazquez, acquired from the New York Yankees during the offseason, will start at shortstop Tuesday. … Trout returned to Tuesday’s lineup after missing Monday night’s game because of a stomach bug.

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