Angels’ Ohtani off to great start at plate in Cactus League


SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — It remains to be seen whether Shohei Ohtani can recover his form on the mound and regain his reputation as a two-way star.

But one thing seems clear: The man appears to remember how to hit.

The 26-year-old Japanese star is off to a terrific start at the plate in Cactus League action, batting .600 (12-for-20) with four homers through eight spring games for the Los Angeles Angels.

Ohtani barely pitched in 2020 because of discomfort in his throwing arm and also had a rough season at the plate, batting just .190 with seven homers and 24 RBIs. But he’s looked much better so far this spring, flashing the batting skill that helped earn him 2018 Rookie of the Year honors.

A healthy and productive Ohtani would be a big boost for an Angels team trying to bounce back from a disappointing 26-34 finish last season.

“I’ve been swinging, hitting all offseason, and I think my swing is feeling really good right now,” Ohtani said when spring training started in February. “My body is feeling really good. I think we’re in a good spot, hitting-wise.”

Here’s a look at a few others who are playing well in Grapefruit and Cactus League action:

Joc Pederson, OF, Cubs: Pederson signed a one-year deal with the Cubs in the offseason with the hope he could earn everyday at-bats in the Chicago lineup. The way he’s hitting so far this spring, it looks like he’ll have an important role. The 28-year-old had 13 hits in his first 26 spring at-bats (.500), including five homers and three doubles.

Jacob DeGrom, RHP, Mets: The two-time Cy Young winner is close to 33 years old but showing no signs of slowing down. If anything, the hard-throwing righty is getting even better. He gave up just three hits through his first nine innings this spring while striking out 16. What’s more, he’s routinely topping 100 mph and looks as overpowering as ever.

Corey Seager, SS, Dodgers: One big reason the Dodgers were the best team in baseball last year was the performance of Seager, who batted .307 with 15 homers in the abbreviated 2020 season. He’s back at it again in Cactus League action with 13 hits in his first 27 at-bats (.481), including five homers.

Sandy Alcantara, RHP, Marlins: The 25-year-old was a part of Miami’s surprise success one year ago, with a 3-2 record and 3.00 ERA in seven starts. He’s looked ready to build on that success in the Grapefruit League this spring. He hasn’t given up an earned run through 12 2/3 innings and has struck out 19.

Pete Alonso, 1B, Mets: The young slugger had a mildly disappointing 2020 season after pounding 53 homers in 2019 earned him Rookie of the Year honors. The 26-year-old has looked good in the Grapefruit League, batting .407 with three homers and four doubles through his first 11 games.

Domingo Germán, RHP, Yankees: The 28-year-old has returned from a domestic violence suspension that had sidelined him since September 2019. He appears likely to earn a spot in the Yankees rotation after his performance so far this spring. He’s allowed just five hits and a walk in nine spring innings while striking out 13.

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