The sight of Shohei Ohtani in a Los Angeles Angels uniform might be starting to feel familiar after he made his third spring training appearance in the past four days, but the two-way player doesn't consider himself a true big league player just yet.
"I really won't feel like a major leaguer until Opening Day," Ohtani said through his interpreter after going 0-for-3 against the Colorado Rockies on Tuesday.
While the pitcher/hitter waits for that regular-season moment to arrive, he will be plenty busy honing the unique schedule he needs to get in work both on the mound and at the plate this spring.
Under the current construction of his schedule, this means Ohtani won't see the batter's box again until at least Sunday due to a Wednesday bullpen session and Friday pitching appearance that manager Mike Scioscia announced will come in a B game against the Milwaukee Brewers. Ohtani will be limited to about 45 pitches in the game.
However, the plan currently keeping Ohtani from swinging the bat on days he throws bullpens could change as the spring progresses.
"I'm not hitting tomorrow, but that might not be the case the rest of the time," Ohtani said. "I'm still trying to get used to things. Once I get used to the rhythm of the schedule, I might start hitting on my bullpen days also."
Ohtani isn't worried about rust despite a plan that could lead to longer breaks than most hitters see between at-bats.
"I've been experiencing the same thing in Japan for a while now," Ohtani said. "The one thing I've been doing is taking BP as much as I can so I stay ready."
From the early results, Ohtani also won't press to get in extra swings when he does get at-bats for the Angels. Following a trend that led to two walks and a single in Monday's hitting debut, Ohtani showed patience again in his first plate appearance of Tuesday's game by taking five consecutive pitches on his way to a first-inning strikeout. He then hit a towering fly ball in his second at-bat before grounding into a fielder's choice and being lifted for a pinch runner in the sixth inning to complete his day.
"I think it was productive," Ohtani said of his performance. "Yesterday's game, I only swung in my third at-bat. This time, I struck out the first at-bat but then I put some good swings on the ball."