Dodgers’ Shohei Ohtani slumping with strikeouts soaring – Orange County Register

LOS ANGELES — It wasn’t a happy birthday.

Shohei Ohtani turned 30 on Friday night by going 0 for 5 and striking out in his first three at-bats, extending a career-long streak of strikeouts to six consecutive at-bats.

The strikeouts have multiplied recently. Going into Saturday, Ohtani was 6 for 29 (.207) with 15 strikeouts in the previous seven games.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts has diagnosed the problem.

“Chasing down,” Roberts said of Ohtani’s swing decisions. “It’s that simple.”

Correcting it is a little more difficult but Roberts said he has confidence in Ohtani making the adjustment.

“I think Shohei knows that he’s being too aggressive on the ball down below,” Roberts said. “(Saturday’s Brewers starter Freddy) Peralta is a guy that elevates the fastball, doesn’t throw the ball down very often. So I think it lines up really well with Shohei – albeit he’s a really good pitcher.

“I think that Shohei is very well aware of what he’s doing. And so I do think that you know, from here going forward, we’re going to see a little bit of a reset, controlling the strike zone.”

Roberts has said that has been a topic of conversation between him and Ohtani at other points during this season. But he’s leaving Ohtani to his own devices this time while feeling confident he will reverse the current trend.

“I think it’s easy (to trust him) because he’s had stretches of a couple, two, three, four games where he does that and then he resets and gets back in his zone,” Roberts said.

INJURY UPDATES

Left-hander Clayton Kershaw will throw to hitters in a simulated-game setting Sunday morning at Dodger Stadium. Kershaw could resume his rehab assignment after that and make two starts before he and the Dodgers’ decision-makers “have a conversation … if it makes sense, for him to join us.”

Roberts wouldn’t characterize it as a setback, but he said Max Muncy is no longer swinging a bat as part of his workouts. Muncy had started hitting off a tee and coaches’ soft tossing last week but continues to experience problems with his strained oblique muscle.

“He’s had additional scans and nothing has kind of come up,” Roberts said. “I wouldn’t say setback. I would just say more of there’s no progression. It just continues to remain stagnant as far as kind of this discomfort, soreness, so we just haven’t been allowed to continue to progress because he just has that same sensation.

“Everything he does turning and rotating is good except swinging the bat. So that’s kind of the weird thing. He has stopped swinging the bat.”

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