Angels experiment with Ohtani as cleanup hitter

In his first American baseball season Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim is 2-1 with a 3.60 ERA with 19 strikeouts in 15 innings over three starts

Los Angeles (AFP) – Shohei Ohtani batted one-for-four with a single in his first game as a cleanup hitter as the Los Angeles Angels lost 4-2 to the San Francisco Giants at Angel Stadium on Sunday.

The two-way Japanese phenom did not pitch Sunday, but he did work out on the mound in the morning in preparation for his next Major League Baseball pitching start on Tuesday against the Houston Astros.

Angels manager Mike Scioscia inserted 23-year-old Ohtani as the fourth player in the batting order, which is called the cleanup spot.

“Shohei is swinging the bat very well,” Scioscia said. “We felt good having him up there in a key position. Anybody who’s hitting behind Mike Trout and Justin Upton, that’s an important spot for us. We thought he was ready for it, and we won’t hesitate again if the situation comes up to get him up there.”

Ohtani struck out in his first two at bats before hitting a single to right field in the sixth inning. He later grounded out to finish one-for-four.

Ohtani is expected to return to the mound on Tuesday against the defending champion Astros.

Ohtani was forced out of his start last Tuesday against the Boston Red Sox after developing a blister on one of his fingers.

In his first American baseball season, Ohtani is 2-1 with a 3.60 ERA with 19 strikeouts in 15 innings over three starts.