Inspired by Shohei Ohtani, Angels pitcher Tucker Davidson breaks out new slider

Angels pitcher Tucker Davidson follows through on a delivery.
Angels pitcher Tucker Davidson delivers a pitch against a Twins batter last August.
(Marcio Jose Sanchez / Associated Press)

Tucker Davidson, one of the pitchers Angels manager Phil Nevin said is in the mix for the final rotation spot, added a sweeper slider to his repertoire.

It’s a notable addition he has spent months working on, using a different pitch grip he’s seen one of his MVP teammates display.

“I’m using [Shohei Ohtani’s] grip, so hopefully it gives me some Shohei outs, you know,” Davidson said jokingly.


Davidson showed off that new sweeper slider a few times during the Angels’ Cactus League opener against the Seattle Mariners, managing some strike calls and a whiff off the 80-mile-per-hour pitch.

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When Davidson was traded to the Angels at last year’s deadline, the staff noticed that his slider started more in his palm. In order to help him get added sweep, the staff wanted him to shift his grip on the seams to his fingertips so he could pull down on the ball more.

“That was something I’ve had to get comfortable with,” Davidson said after his two perfect innings Saturday. “And then this offseason was like alright, I know what I’m looking for, that feeling and then just getting that extension and repeating it.”

The sweeper slider almost appears like a curveball and with his work at Driveline and guidance from the Angels coming into this season, he’s felt encouraged by it.

“I watched Shohei throw sliders up in the zone,” Davidson said “and guys just soared on him, kind of like waved at it and I’m like, ‘How do you do that?’ And then I watched a ton of his outings this year of like, ‘How do you get guys out?’

“I was like, ‘How do you utilize your slider, your slider’s so good’… and just kind of watched him and really saw that slider. I was like, ‘I think I can do that.’”


Angels win spring training opener

Jo Adell, right, celebrates with third base coach Bill Haselman (82) after hitting a two-run home run.
Jo Adell, right, celebrates with third base coach Bill Haselman (82) after hitting a two-run home run for the Angels against the Seattle Mariners on Saturday.
(Charlie Riedel / Associated Press)

The Angels took an early lead in their Cactus League opener against the Seattle Mariners on Saturday at the Peoria Sports Complex, winning 5-1.

In the second inning, Jo Adell mashed a two-run home run to ignite the Angels.

Adell said he’s been working with new hitting coach Marcus Thames and assistant hitting coach Phil Plantier on counts and staying patient in the box.

The game lasted 2 hours 16 minutes thanks to the addition of the pitch clock.

No hard feelings

Nevin said he meant no slight to former Angels All-Star pitcher Jered Weaver by not inviting him as a guest to spring training this year.

Weaver seemed peeved he was not invited to Angels spring camp, in a tweet he posted Friday night.

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“No offense to Jered, I love him, he’s a great guy, he was a great Angel,” Nevin said in response. “It’s not something that we wouldn’t look at in the future.”


Nevin clarified that, with the exception of Albert Pujols, who works for the Angels as a special assistant to the club, he invited alumni of the 2002 World Series winning team, as well as his old teammates.