Angels’ Ohtani pitches into 3rd in spring debut; off to WBC No umps when Orioles and Pirates play unneeded bottom of 9th

DESK, Arizona. – Shohei Otani He had no problems with the fields or the new watch at his first spring practice this year, the only one for the Los Angeles Angels before he joined Japan at the World Baseball Classic.

On Tuesday, Otani pitched 2 1/3 no-hit innings against Oakland, striking out two and passing two. The two-sided star, who started his final season before becoming a free agent, didn’t miss a beat.

“It’s always nice to get the first game for your belt,” Otani said through translator Ippei Mizuharu. “The main task today was to feel all your submissions. I felt pretty good with all of them.”

“I wanted to relax. I’m happy,” he added.

Otani, 15-9 with a 2.33 ERA and 219 strikeouts last season, is slated to start the March 30 opener in Oakland.

He reached 98 mph against the track and field. He passed Jesús Aguilar in the second and went out of the half as Livan Soto started a double play. Ohtani passed his final test Ryan Nodaand Luke Murphy was relieved.

Otani used PitchCom to improve his pace.

“I named my own fields,” Otani said. “It was just today, I don’t know what’s going to happen.”

Otani will return to Japan to prepare for his country’s first WBC match against China on March 9.

His mound opponent on Tuesday was Shintaro FujinamiThe 28-year-old right-hander signed a one-year, $3.25 million contract after 10 seasons with the Central League Hanshin Tigers.

The duo have not met each other since Otani played for the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters of the Pacific League. Otani, since he didn’t hit in the game, said he didn’t see Fujinami on the hill very often.

Fujinami, who went through two innings, was paying attention to his mound opponent, he said.

“I know the Japanese fans have been looking forward to us fighting each other,” Fujinami said through a translator. “I thought it was good fun (for them).”

BRADENTON, Florida. There was no referee at the plate to announce the balls and strike, not even one of those so-called robots that could be part of the game in the future when the Baltimore Orioles and Pittsburgh Pirates continued to play on Tuesday.

Referees left the field after Baltimore Josh Lester landed to finish the top of the ninth inning with the Orioles trailing 7-4, officially ending the spring training contest.

But the teams went ahead and played in the bottom of the ninth inning after Pirates manager Derek Shelton and Baltimore skipper Brandon Hyde had a quick discussion.

The Orioles wanted to get some work on the mound for right-hander Ofreidy Gomez. Teams sometimes agree to shorten or extend spring practice games based on need.

When the umpires left, balls and strikes were assigned by the catcher, as is done in many backyard games. Maverick Handley, an uninvited member of the line-up who never played at the Double-A level, was at the plate for the Orioles.


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