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

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 remarkable addition that he’s been working on for months, using a different pitch grip that he’s seen one of his MVP teammates demonstrate.

“I use (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 of the 80-mile-per-hour pitch.

When Davidson was traded to the Angels on last year’s deadline, the staff noticed that his slider started moving more in the palm of his hand. To help him get more punch, the staff wanted him to move his grip on the seams to his fingertips so he could pull the ball down more.

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

The sweeper slider almost looks like a curveball, and with his work at Driveline and mentoring the Angels coming in this season, he feels encouraged by it.

“I saw Shohei throw sliders in the zone,” Davidson said, “and guys just flew at him, like they waved at it and I was like, ‘How do you do that?’ And then this year I watched a lot of his outings, like, “How do you get guys out?”

“I was like, ‘How do you use your slider, your slider is so good’… and I just looked at 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 for the Angels against the Seattle Mariners on Saturday.

(Charlie Riedel/Associated Press)

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

In the second inning, Jo Adell hit a two-run home run to set the Angels on fire.

Adell said he has 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 and 16 minutes thanks to the addition of the pitch clock.

No hard feelings

Nevin said he was not disrespecting former Angels All-Star pitcher Jered Weaver by not inviting him to spring training this year as a guest.

Weaver seemed annoyed that he wasn’t invited to Angel’s spring camp, in a tweet he posted Friday night.

“I don’t mean to offend Jered, I love him, he’s a great guy, he was a great angel,” Nevin said in response. “It’s not something we wouldn’t look at in the future.”

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

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