Tuesday Newsletter time: Jonah Heim won’t get chance vs. Angels to cement status in Japan
(AP photo/Michael Ainsworth)
ANAHEIM, Calif. — Another good game for Jonah Heim against Shohei Ohtani resulted in a prompt email from a friend in Japan who assigns me stories for his newspaper once every month or so.
No, I don’t write in Japanese.
People there need to know more about Heim, who apparently has become known in Japan as “Ohtani Killer.”
“That’s not my style,” the Rangers catcher said.
But the fact is that Heim is 5 for 5 with seven RBIs and a grand slam in two 2022 games against Ohtani. That is the only grand slam Ohtani has allowed in his career.
It’s a nice footnote to a nice start to the season for Heim, but it’s not even the No.1 highlight for him. That would be the home run he hit in his first at-bat after his daughter was born.
But Heim undestands the Ohtani thing.
“I mean, he’s an All-Star, a superstar, a once-in-a-lifetime generational talent, but at the same time, we’ve just got to go out there and try to do our jobs,” Heim said. “And no matter who’s on the mound, we’ve got to put up some good at-bats to help the team win. So I’m out there to do my job, and that’s it.”
Heim said he owes his success to keeping things simple.
“I’ve learned that the guy who is throwing that hard, you can’t go out there and try to swing as hard as he’s throwing,” Heim said. “You’ve got to try to dial your swing down, maybe swinging at 70 percent and finding barrels because you’re going to let that guy generate the power for you.
“And when he’s throwing that hard, everything’s moving, so you want to be precise with your barrel. And when you’re going out there and swinging as hard as he’s throwing. That’s when you get a lot of swing and miss.”
Alas, the Rangers won’t face Ohtani this week in their two-game series at Angel Stadium. Noah Syndergaard will start Tuesday in Game 1 and Reid Detmers will pitch the finale Wednesday.
As the Rangers were taking batting practice Friday night at Minute Maid Park, something that MLB needs more of was occuring in left field.
Right-hander Dane Dunning was playing catch with kids in the stands who were stationed against a high wall along the foul line.
He had a system, too, going from the highest row to the lowest and then making sure he got any stragglers. He was throwing gently enough for kids of all ages to have a chance to make the catch.
“To them it’s probably throwing a little too hard. To me, that’s probably the lightest I can go,” Dunning said. “There was like a 4-year-old who was getting held up by his dad, so I underhanded it and he snagged it. I was like, ‘That’s awesome.’ And then when he threw it, it was like two feet.”
Dunning only plays catch when there are enough pitchers shagging and when there is a break in the netting that runs along the stands. He hasn’t done it a Globe Life Field yet because the Rangers usually take batting practice before fans enter the ballpark and because there are only a few places to do it.
He isn’t the first player play catch with kids. Angels superstar Mike Trout is among those who have done it in the past.
Dunning knows his place in the food chain. He’s not Trout and the game of catch probably didn’t have the same effect on the kids as if it had been one of baseball’s all-time greats, but, yes, it definitely had a positive effect on those kids.
And on Dunning.
“One of the kids was screaming at his dad,” Dunning said. “He was like, ‘Dad, get your camera! I’m playing catch with a major-leaguer!’ It’s just little reactions like that that are just really cool. … Being able to do little things like that is awesome.”
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Yep…tastes like chicken. 😜🐶🐥 pic.twitter.com/VxylHs7c8X
— Fred Schultz (@FredSchultz35) May 21, 2022
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