28 Feb

stolen thunder

The anticipation for Shohei Ohtani’s first spring training at-bat with the Los Angeles Dodgers bordered on crazy. It’s fair to say that Garrett Crochet, the pride of Ocean Springs, stole a bit of the Japanese superstar’s thunder on Tuesday in Glendale, Ariz. Crochet, the Chicago White Sox’s 24-year-old left-hander making his first start since his college days four years ago, struck out Ohtani on four pitches, freezing him on a 100-mph fastball to end the AB. “I just made some good pitches,” Crochet told nbcsportschicago.com, noting that he had faced Ohtani a couple times in regular season games. (Yes, Ohtani later — in his third AB against a different White Sox pitcher — gave the crowd what it clamored for, hitting a two-run homer.) Crochet is coming off two injury-dampened seasons and is aiming to transition from the bullpen to the rotation in 2024. Tuesday’s outing was a nice first step. In addition to fanning Ohtani, he retired Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman on grounders in the first inning. He yielded a couple of one-out hits in the second but ended his day with another punchout. “The results were good,” he said. “Just got to keep grinding.” The 11th overall pick in the 2020 draft out of Tennessee, Crochet exploded on the MLB scene in September of that year, striking out the first two batters he faced while throwing six of 13 pitches in a clean inning at 100 mph or better. In 2021, he posted a 2.82 ERA in 54 games as a key reliever for the division-winning ChiSox. Tommy John surgery kept him out in 2022 and a shoulder problem limited him to 13 appearances last season. It’s fair to say that Tuesday’s outing was encouraging and there is a raised level of anticipation for his next one.

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