Home / News / Shohei Ohtani homers in first game of spring against Chicago White Sox

Shohei Ohtani homers in first game of spring against Chicago White Sox

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Chicago White Sox pitcher Garrett Crochet faced Shohei Ohtani twice during the 2021 season and struck out the superstar both times.

There was a little more interest when the two squared off at Camelback Ranch on Tuesday — much more than a typical Cactus League game.

It was Ohtani’s first hit in a spring training game after conceding a record. 10-year, $700 million deal with Los Angeles Dodgers At the beginning of December.

“The crowd was very loud, so we were both feeling the benefit of it,” Crochet said.

Batting second in the bottom of the first inning, Ohtani checked Crochet’s swing on a first-ball bid. Ohtani swung hard and his helmet fell off, missing the second shot. He fouled out the next shot and then Crochet iced him in the third.

“I just made a few good pitches,” Crochet said.

It was all part of an eventful day in front of a crowd of 6,678 at Camelback Ranch, where the Sox lost 9-6.

Ohtani was on the Dodgers roster a few months after having elbow surgery – A procedure that will keep the All-Star off the mound until 2025.

He went 1-for-3 as a designated hitter on Tuesday. He pitched a 4-6-3 double play against former Los Angeles Angels teammate Justin Anderson in the third round, but sparked the park in the fifth by hitting an opposite-field two-run homer against another former teammate, Dominic Leone. created.

Dodgers designated hitter Shohei Ohtani watches his two-run homer during the fifth inning against the White Sox on Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024, in Glendale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

“This was definitely a big first step,” Ohtani told reporters through a translator. “The most important thing for me was that I was able to finish the game without any problems. I definitely feel good at the plate and I feel better every time I get up, so it’s moving in the right direction.”

Excitement had built long before the first shot. Photographers gathered near the third base dugout 40 minutes before the game, awaiting Ohtani’s arrival. Fans lined up two deep, close to the left field fence.

There was a huge cheer when his name was announced over the announcement system.

Crochet said his focus right now is “just playing catch.” Sox manager Pedro Grifol said before the game that excitement for a game like Tuesday’s is “always good.”

“It annoys these guys,” he said. “But we have to get there and achieve our goals for the day.”

Anderson, Leone, pitcher Jesse Chavez, catcher Max Stassi, infielder Mike Moustakas and outfielder Brett Phillips are among those who played in Sox camp Tuesday and are teammates with Ohtani on the Angels. New batting coach Marcus Thames He took on the same role as the angels Last season. And new bullpen coach Matt Wise was the Angels’ pitching coach the previous three seasons after serving as bullpen coach in 2020.

Dodgers' Shohei Ohtani greets White Sox coach Marcus Thames before the game in Glendale, Arizona, on Tuesday, February 27, 2024 (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
Dodgers’ Shohei Ohtani greets White Sox coach Marcus Thames before the game in Glendale, Arizona, on Tuesday, February 27, 2024 (Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Phillips, a non-roster invitee who competed for a spot in the outfield, played 39 games with the Angels last season.

“It was a crazy experience,” Phillips told the Tribune Tuesday morning. “Everywhere we went people came.”

He said the excitement around Ohtani was “great for the game.”

“This is growing the game,” Phillips said. “This increases the love and excitement for the game.”

Ohtani has batted historically well against the Sox in the regular season, batting .318/.393/.798 in 35 career plate appearances. His 16 home runs against the Sox are his fourth-most against any team, and he also has six doubles, four triples and 35 RBIs against them.

Photos: An inside look at White Sox spring training

Ohtani was a lock for the Sox on his way to winning his second American League MVP award in 2023. He hit seven of his 44 home runs against them — the most against any team — and slashed .440/.548/1.360 with 10 RBIs in seven games.

The Sox didn’t have much success against him on the mound, either. Ohtani has a 2-0 record against them with a 1.08 ERA in three career starts. He allowed 11 hits, walked eight and struck out 28 in 16 2/3 innings.

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