Shohei Ohtani knew when he entered spring training that one of his biggest challenges would be the pitch clock.
The Angels’ two-way star made his first appearance as a pitcher in a spring game on Tuesday. He pitched 2 1/3 scoreless innings against the Oakland Athletics, striking out two and walking two, without a clock violation in his 34 pitches.
Ohtani took to the PitchCom device this spring to name his own games. That saves time on the number of signals he gives a catcher to get on the field he wants to throw.
Whether he could pitch within the allotted time limit—15 seconds between pitches with the bases empty, 20 seconds with runners on base, and 30 seconds between batters—wasn’t much of a concern to anyone on the team.
What manager Phil Nevin did think about was how the time limit would affect the intimidation factor Ohtani has on opposing hitters.
“When you’re standing in the box and Nolan Ryan is pacing the hill,” Nevin said, “you’re like, ‘Oh, damn, what’s he going to do next to me,’ right? I think Shohei has that presence about him.
“The faster those guys work and the more a batter can sit in the box and not be uncomfortable, that can change a few things because he has that intimidating look and the way he moves around the mound. He still has that, that’s not going to take that away, but it’s going to change a little bit and how he goes about it.
Ohtani acknowledged after his first gaming experience with the clock that he will continue to try to adapt to it everywhere.
“I couldn’t really tell if I was intimidating the batters or not, so that’s not really a problem,” Ohtani said through interpreter Ippei Mizuhara. “As for the pitch clock, it’s the same for everyone. Everyone has to adapt.
“It’s going well so far, but I feel like I’m being rushed a bit. As long as I keep getting games under my belt, I should be good.