Categoria: Shohei Ohtani

Angels React To Shohei Ohtani Vs. Mike Trout World Baseball Classic Duel

TEMPE, Ariz. — While the baseball world was focused on the matchup between Shohei Ohtani and Mike Trout to end the World Baseball Classic, it was nothing like the feelings their Angels teammates were having back in Arizona.

“I was nervous as hell,” first baseman Jared Walsh said Wednesday morning. “I was sitting there and my heart was pounding. I love Sho. I love Mike. … That was a win-win, but also a lose-lose. You care about all those people involved.”

Infielder David Fletcher said the anticipation grew as the elements aligned for the matchup.

“When Shohei walked down to the bullpen and I realized Trout was up and they were up by one, I was like ‘Holy (expletive),” Fletcher said. “You can’t make that up. That was a pretty storybook ending.”

Manager Phil Nevin said his phone was flooded with texts asking him who he was rooting for.

“That never even crossed my mind,” Nevin said. “I love this game. There’s no other sport, no other arena that could build that type of drama. That’s why our game’s the greatest game there is… Two players on the same team. The last out. It’s one run. It’s the two best players in the world.”

The highly anticipated matchup ended with Ohtani striking out Trout on an 87 mph sweeper that had 19 inches of break.

“The last pitch he threw, there’s not a hitter alive that’s going to hit that pitch,” Nevin said.

Walsh and outfielder Jo Adell, speaking as hitters, said that’s an impossible pitch for a hitter to handle in March.

“I’m sure, knowing Mike, how hard working he is, he’s a little unsatisfied with that game,” Walsh said. “I have a feeling when it really matters during the year, he’s going to pick us up in a huge spot down the stretch.”

Therein lies the other narrative that surrounded all of the excitement of the performance of these two generational players in the World Baseball Classic.

The unavoidable backdrop to this moment was the reality that Ohtani has never even been close to playing in a pennant race for the Angels, let alone the postseason. Trout has not been in the playoffs since 2014.

This could be their final season in the same uniform, with Ohtani set to become a free agent.

The thoughts going through the minds of Angels fans were also going through Adell’s mind as he watched Ohtani, Trout and No. 2 starter Patrick Sandoval all starring in the high-intensity environment of the WBC.

“I think it fires all of us up,” Adell said. “Anyone who watched that and saw the competitiveness between those two, I think it’s good going into the year for them to have felt sort of a postseason atmosphere. … It’s pretty cool for them to have that experience and come back and bring some of that energy here.”

Ohtani and Sandoval will be back in Angels camp in Tempe for one last tuneup for the regular season.

Ohtani will pitch in a minor-league game Friday. Nevin said the plan all along was to make room for Ohtani to pitch one inning in the final if Japan needed him. It was his bullpen day in preparation for a start Friday, which sets him up to be on his normal five days’ rest before starting Opening Day the following Thursday in Oakland.

Sandoval will pitch Sunday in a minor-league game, which lines him up for the second game of the season, the following Saturday in Oakland.

Both pitchers were scheduled to throw in big-league exhibitions – Ohtani against the Padres and Sandoval at Dodger Stadium in the Freeway Series – but the assignments were changed to minor-league games to reduce the stress after pitching with the intensity of the WBC.

“They’ll have hitters and be facing a different uniform, but the intensity they’ve pitched at the last three weeks, we need to throttle that back,” Nevin said.

As for Trout, he would not have played Wednesday or Saturday – the final day in Arizona – and the Angels are off Thursday, so he’d have come back to Tempe only to play on Friday. The Angels are instead having him go back to Southern California. He will work out at Angel Stadium on Friday and Saturday and play in the Freeway Series on Sunday at Dodger Stadium.

GOOD SHOWING Right-hander Austin Warren said he feels like this spring he’s thrown even better than he did when he had an impressive showing in the majors in 2021, before a 2022 season spoiled by a freak injury.

Warren broke his nose when a ball hit him while he walked across the field during batting practice in May. Warren didn’t throw for a month and a half while recovering from the injury. He also suffered headaches for two months after that, and didn’t get sufficient sleep when he had to sleep upright immediately following the broken nose.

That added up to a 5.63 ERA in 14 games and eventually losing his spot on the 40-man roster.

This spring, Warren has allowed two runs in eight innings, with nine strikeouts and no walks. He said he’s also benefited from a new sweeper that he’s added.

“I think it’s a good pitch to have in my arsenal,” he said. “I can throw it any time, any count. Just keep hitters on their toes and not know what’s coming.”

Warren, 27, is in the mix for a spot in the Opening Day bullpen, but probably more likely to start the season in the minors. He nonetheless offers the Angels encouraging depth if he can repeat – or improve on – the 1.77 ERA he posted in 16 big-league games in 2021.

NOTES Catcher Max Stassi is away from the team dealing with a “family emergency,” Nevin said. …

Left-hander José Suarez is scheduled to pitch in a minor-league game Thursday, which is an Angels off day. Right-hander Griffin Canning will start the exhibition against the Padres on Friday, while Ohtani pitches in a minor-league game. Left-handers Tucker Davidson, Tyler Anderson and Reid Detmers are scheduled to start the three Freeway Series games against the Dodgers. …

On Saturday, the Angels will use a collection of relievers for their final game in Arizona. Sam Bachman, one of the Angels’ top pitching prospects, is among the relievers on the list to work in that game. Bachman has pitched two scoreless innings so far in big-league exhibitions. He is going to be stretched out to start in the minors this season.

World Baseball Classic: Shohei Ohtani Helps Japan Advance To Quarterfinals

TOKYO — Shohei Ohtani had another RBI double, 21-year-old right-hander Roki Sasaki reached 100 mph 21 times in 66 pitches and Japan beat the Czech Republic 10-2 on Saturday night to clinch a quarterfinal berth in the World Baseball Classic.

Shugo Maki hit his second home run of the tournament and new Boston Red Sox oufielder Masataka Yoshida had three RBIs, including a go-ahead, two-run double in the third inning off loser Ondrej Satoria as the Samurai Warriors overcame a 1-0 deficit.

Ohtani went 1 for 3 with a walk before a crowd of 41,637 in the Tokyo Dome, leaving for a pinch hitter in the eighth inning. He is 5 for 10 with three doubles, four RBIs and five walks for Japan (3-0), which has one more group game and will host a quarterfinal on Wednesday or Thursday. He also has pitched four scoreless innings.

Sasaki struck out eight in 3 2/3 innings and got the win. He allowed an unearned run, two hits and two walks.Sasaki threw the 16th perfect game in Japanese major league history in April, then pitched eight perfect innings in his next start before being pulled after 102 pitches. He went 9-2 with a 2.02 ERA for the Pacific League’s Chiba Lotte Marines last year, striking out 173 in 129 1/3 innings.

In the opener, Rixon Wingrove had four RBIs as Australia (2-0) won in a 12-2 rout of China (0-3) in a game shortened to seven innings by the 10-run mercy rule.

In Group B at Taichung, Boston’s Yu Chang hit a tiebreakking, second-inning grand slam that lifted host Taiwan (2-1) to a 9-5 win over the Netherlands (2-1), and Panama (2-2) won 2-0 over Italy (1-2).

JAPAN 10, CZECH REPUBLIC 2 Japan pitchers struck 16 in all in the Tokyo Dome.

The Czechs went ahead in the first when Marek Chlup doubled and scored on shortstop Takumu Nakano’s throwing error.

Ohtani struck out with two on in the third, but Japan went ahead as Yoshida doubled and scored on a single by 2015 Central League MVP Tetsuto Yamada.

Lars Nootbaar had an RBI single in the fourth as Japan opened a 7-1 lead. Kenduke Kondoh and Ohtani hit consecutive run-scoring doubles, and Ohtani stole third and scored on Yoshida’s sacrifice fly.

Yuki Udagawa and Hiroya Miyagi finished a four-hitter. Miyagi threw 68 pitches over five innings and struck out the final five Czech batters,

AUSTRALIA 12, CHINA 2 Wingrove hit a three-run double off loser Xin Qi in the first inning and added an RBI single in a five-run fourth as the Southern Thunder opened a 10-2 lead in Tokyo.

Robbie Glendinning hit his second homer of the tournament, a two-run drive in the fourth against Weiyi Wang.

Winner Kyle Glogoski allowed one hit in 2 2/3 scoreless innings with five strikeouts and three walks. Coen Wynne pitched 2 2/3 hitless innings and Todd Van Steensel threw a perfect seventh as four pitchers combined on a five-hitter.

China scored twice in the fourth when Jie Cao hit his second double on the game, Luke Wilkins threw a run-scoring wild pitch and Jinjun Luo had an RBI single.

PANAMA 2, ITALY 0 Jose Ramos homered off loser Michele Vassalotti leading off the second inning and scored on Allen Cordoba’s seventh-inning single against Sam Gaviglio in Taichung, Taiwan.

Ramos is hitting .313 (5 for 16).

Italy put runners at the corners in the ninth when Javy Guerra walked Dominic Fletcher leading off and Brett Sullivan singled, but John Valente struck out and Nicky Lopez hit a comebacker that Panama turned into a game-ending double play.

Winner Harold Araúz allowed two hits in four scoreless innings, and Humberto Mejía, Alberto Baldonado and Guerra finished a five-hitter.

TAIWAN 9, NETHERLANDS 5 Chang homered off Derek West after Li Lin’s tying RBI single against loser Lars Huijer. Chang hit a two-run homer in the 11-7 victory over Italy in Taichung, Taiwan, and is 6 for 12 with seven RBIs in the tournament.

Winner Tzu-Peng Huang gave up two runs — one earned — and two hits in 2 2/3 innings.

Didi Gregorius had two RBIs for the Netherlands, including a first-inning RBI single, and Xander Bogaerts went 0 for 3 with three strikeouts and two walks.

Tsung-Che Cheng’s run-scoring single and Kun-Yu Chiang’s sacrifice fly boosted the lead in the third, and Chieh-Hsien Chen made it 8-2 with an RBI triple in the fourth.

Ray-Patrick Didder homered for the Dutch, who got RBI singles from Juremi Profar — Jurickson’s brother — and Wladimir Balentien. The Netherlands closed to 8-5 in the eighth before Chia-Hao Sung retired Chadwick Tromp on an inning-ending flyout with a man on.

Shohei Ohtani Shines For Japan In World Baseball Classic

TOKYO — Shohei Ohtani allowed one hit in the four innings he pitched, struck out five and was the winning pitcher Thursday in Japan’s 8-1 victory over China in Group B at the World Baseball Classic.

Ohtani also doubled off the left field wall in the fourth to score two at the Tokyo Dome and increase Japan’s lead to 3-0.

The fans got what they came for – Ohtani pitching, hitting and not disappointing the 41,616 who showed up. Japan eventually won in a game closer than expected until the hosts broke it open late.

Besides Ohtani, the fan favorite was Lars Nootbaar of the St. Louis Cardinals, who made a sprawling catch is center and also led off and hit the first pitch he saw for a single in the first.

China cut the lead to 3-1 in the sixth on Pei Liang’s home run, but Japan got it back in the seventh to make it 4-1 on a homer by Shugo Maki.

The Japanese added four runs in the eighth to put the game away.

Japan will next play South Korea on Friday while China takes on the Czech Republic.

AUSTRALIA 8, SOUTH KOREA 7 Robbie Perkins hit one of Australia’s three homers to beat South Korea in Group B at the Tokyo Dome.

Australia, leading 5-4 in the top of the eighth, put the game away with a three-run shot by Perkins. The blast came off Hyeon-Jong Yang, who had entered in relief in the inning and made only seven pitches and got no one out.

Australia went ahead 2-0 in the fifth, but South Korea rallied with three runs in the bottom half of the inning. That came on Euiji Yang’s three-run, line-drive home run to left field.

South Korea added another run in the sixth. But Australia scored three in the seventh to take the lead.

The seventh inning also featured a three-run homer from Robbie Glendinning, with Australia living off its power game.

South Korea scored three runs in its eighth – on five walks and a hit batter – to cut the lead to 8-7 but could not break through in the ninth.

NETHERLANDS 3, PANAMA 1 The Netherlands, after beating Cuba in the opener, won its second game in two days in Group A.

Xander Bogaerts homered in the third to give the Dutch a 1-0 lead. Jurickson Profar added to the lead in the fifth with another one-run home run.

Panama’s Erasmo Caballero cut the lead to 2-1 in the sixth on an single that scored Jose Ramos.

The Netherlands picked up its final run in the eight when Bogaerts scored on a wild pitch by Alberto Baldonado.

ITALY 6, CUBA 3 (10 innings) Cuba lost its second game in Group A play, falling to Italy in what is a disappointing start for what used to be Latin America’s top power.

Brett Sullivan’s sacrifice in the sixth scored Sal Frelick and gave Italy a 1-0 lead. The Italians made it 2-0 in the seventh on a double by Miles Mastrobuoni that scored Nicky Lopez.

Cuba cut the lead to 2-1 in its half of the seventh on an RBI single from Lorenzo Quintana that scored Erisbel Arruebarrena.

In the eighth, Arruebarrena tried to save Cuba and tied the game on a single scoring Alfredo Despaigne.

The game went to extra innings with Italy scoring four in the 10th to clinch the victory. Cuba picked up one in the bottom of the 10th.

Italy is 1-0 and faces winless Taiwan on Friday. Cuba faces Panama next.

Shohei Ohtani’s Return Has Japan Buzzing For World Baseball Classic

TOKYO — Everyone in Japan seems to be a fan of Shohei Ohtani, and the buzz even extends to his teammates.

That includes St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Lars Nootbaar – the first to play for Japan’s national team because of ancestry. His mother Kumi was born in Japan.

The former El Segundo High and USC star just joined the squad and barely knows the Angels superstar. But he’s been impressed, which is an understatement. Nootbaar was bragging about Ohtani to a small group inside the Tokyo Dome that included former major league and Japan league manager Bobby Valentine.

“He’s just incredible,” Nootbaar said of Ohtani.

Just then, Ohtani came around the corner, gave Nootbaar a quick hug, and then disappeared down a hallway.

“Never seen it. Never seen it before. It’s special,” Nootbaar added. “It’s special.”

To which Valentine replied: “Enjoy it.”

Nootbaar seems to be.

Moments later, in a jam-packed news conference, Nootbaar elaborated even more about Ohtani, who is expected to start for Japan on Thursday against China in their opening game of the World Baseball Classic.

And when he’s pulled, he’s expected to be the DH.

Nootbaar has started as the lead-off hitter for Japan in a few practice games and could be there again with his team among the tournament favorites alongside the Dominican Republic and the United States.

“I’m just like you guys,” Nootbaar said. “I think I’m just like a fan being able to watch him. I’m just fortunate to get a front-row seat to it. It’s been pretty amazing to watch him go about his business, and how he goes about his work and handles himself on and off the field. It’s really impressive seeing that side.

“It’s something I’ve never seen before,” Nootbaar added. “He’s a freak of nature and even a better guy, and I mean that wholeheartedly. I’ve been very impressed with how he goes about his business.”

The Japanese have a word they use to describe Ohtani – “nitoryu” – which refers to a samurai fighting with two swords. Or more broadly, it mean’s doing two things simultaneously.

That’s Ohtani. He pitches. He’s a power hitter. And his return after a long absence to play in Japan in the WBC is reminiscent of the frenzy around Ichiro Suzuki’s final Major League Baseball games four years ago – also at the Tokyo Dome.

Ohtani couldn’t wait to add to the buzz around him. He hit a pair of three-run home runs on Monday in Osaka in Japan’s exhibition game against the Hanshin Tigers.

In anticipation of Japan’s practice game on Monday, the Sports Nippon newspaper noted in a large headline that it had been 1,974 days since Ohtani last played in Japan. That was on Oct. 9, 2017, his last game with the Nippon-Ham Fighters before going to the Angels.

Similar to tennis player Naomi Osaka, Ohtani is not just a Japanese star but a global marquee name who draws record endorsements. Ohtani is reported to earn $20 million annually in endorsements, far more than any major leaguer.

Ohtani represents largely high-end brands, a Japanese bank and a Japanese watchmaker. His face is everywhere, even on posters in department stores selling cosmetics for men.

Osaka, who is pregnant and has stepped away from tennis, is the world’s top earning female athlete.

Ohtani has agreed to a $30 million deal with the Angels for the 2023 season. After that he will be a free agent and his next contract could be the largest ever for a major leaguer.

Koichi Nakano, an observer of Japanese politics who teaches at Sophia University, said the “idolization of Ohtani in Japan reflects its own inferiority complex vis-a-vis the fatherland of baseball that is the U.S.”

Nakano noted the power of Ohtani. Japanese television often does not cover national parliamentary debates, but seldom misses following Japanese “heroes” like Ohtani excelling in the United States.

“So each time where there is a Japanese ‘export’ that was hugely successful in MLB,” Nakano said, “the Japanese are enthralled.”