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Shohei Ohtani makes 2nd start as Angels visit Rangers

Sportsnaut
Apr 9, 2022; Toronto, Ontario, CAN;   Texas Rangers starting pitcher Dane Dunning (33) delivers a pitch against the Toronto Blue Jays in the first inning at Rogers Centre. Mandatory Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports
Credit: Dan Hamilton-USA TODAY Sports

The Texas Rangers will host the Los Angeles Angels on Thursday night in Arlington, Texas, with right-hander Dane Dunning set to showcase a new slider that was unveiled during spring training.

Dunning’s first start was decent — he gave up three runs and five hits in five innings in Toronto, getting a no-decision in a Blue Jays victory — so the pitch is still a work in progress.

“I just needed to rip it a little bit more,” he said. “That’s just going to be an adjustment, and I just needed that repetition on it, that’s all.”

Dunning (0-0, 5.40 ERA) still will also throw his “original” slider, as well as his other pitches — fastball, sinker, curve, changeup, cutter — as he continues to develop his repertoire.

“The slider that I normally throw is a bit more vertical,” he said. “This new slider I throw is probably more like a sideways curveball. …The numbers are actually really good on it, so it’s something I wanted to incorporate into my repertoire. It’s something different that hitters haven’t seen.”

Dunning, who is 1-2 with a 7.71 ERA in three career starts against the Angels, will be matched up against Los Angeles right-hander Shohei Ohtani (0-1, 1.93 ERA). The two-way player gave up one run and four hits in 4 2/3 innings, striking out nine and walking one, in an Opening Day loss to Houston.

Ohtani is 3-0 with a 2.86 ERA in four career starts against the Rangers.

Ohtani and the Angels will be without starting shortstop David Fletcher, who was placed on the injured list Tuesday because of a strained left hip, something that bothered him in spring training.

Starting in Fletcher’s place for the time being is Andrew Velazquez, whom the Angels claimed off waivers from the Yankees in November. He said leaving the Yankees was disappointing, considering he’s a native of the Bronx, but not something he is bitter about.

“The opportunity to play in New York, my hometown, was amazing,” Velazquez told the New York Post in January. “A once-in-a-lifetime experience. And the way the game works, you never know. Just enjoyed my time here, but a really good opportunity in Anaheim.”

The Angels were not unfamiliar with Velazquez when they acquired him. The Angels’ current bench coach, Ray Montgomery, was the Diamondbacks’ director of scouting when Arizona drafted him in 2012.

Velazquez never reached the majors while with the Diamondbacks organization, finally getting to the big leagues in 2018 with Tampa Bay. The Angels are Velazquez’s fifth major league team.

He competed in spring training for the starting job at second base, but ultimately was sent to Triple-A Salt Lake to play shortstop before being called up Tuesday to replace Fletcher.

He was hitless with two strikeouts in his first start Tuesday, and in 97 career major league games he’s hitting .181 with a .516 OPS.

Another option for the Angels at shortstop is Tyler Wade, who played two innings there Monday after Fletcher was removed from the game.

–Field Level Media