Italian Sausage Wins, and other observations from Maryvale Park

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Like I said: they have a bit of Milwaukee here:

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It was a nice enough day, though a little sleepy. The Brewers have so many people away at the WBC that even their home lineup looked a lot like a road lineup for most spring training games. Something called Scooter Gennett led off. Because every single Brewers first baseman since Cecil Cooper is injured, Alex Gonzalez played first base — and made some sweet plays there. The always-intimidating Khris Davis hit cleanup. As I’m typing this it’s tied 2-2 in the top of the seventh. The most notable event involved an apparent injury to Dbacks’ leadoff hitter Tony Campana, who stole second base in the first inning and left the game when he was apparently spiked.

Beyond that: not the sort of game where you could tell anything about either team. It seems like we’re getting more of those as the WBC gears up and players are realizing that they still have over three weeks of spring training to get through. The initial enthusiasm has waned a bit.

But it’s still baseball. And in my last full day here tomorrow I plan to take in two more games. One as press, one as a fan. With the expected reports to follow.

OK, they just did the seventh inning stretch. Easily the most enthusiastic crowd participation since I’ve been here, followed by the de riguer “Beer Barrel Polka.”  So not everyone is flagging.


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Watch: Shohei Ohtani strikes out his first spring training batter

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Sure, spring training games don’t count toward anything “real,” but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy Angels’ star pitcher/hitter Shohei Ohtani mowing down his first big league competitors.

On Saturday, Ohtani took the mound against the Brewers for his first official outing in an Angels uniform. After allowing a leadoff double to Jonathan Villar, the 23-year-old righty settled down and issued a three-pitch strikeout to Nate Orf, his first of the spring.

It wasn’t the cleanest inning for the right-hander: the Brewers plated their first run on a walk, wild pitch and subsequent throwing error by catcher Martin Maldonado. Ohtani didn’t let things unravel further, however, and induced a pop-up for the second out before catching Brett Phillips looking on a called strike three to end the inning.

While the two-way phenom only lasted another two batters (a Keon Broxton dinger finished him off in the second), he’s already started to look like a formidable presence on the mound. Time will tell whether he can deliver at the plate as well — rumor has it he could feature in the Angels’ lineup as soon as Monday.