Glendale, Ariz. (AP) — Shohei Ohtani strolled into the spring training clubhouse of his new team, the Los Angeles Dodgers, sporting a plain white T-shirt emblazoned with the word “BOSS” in bold, black letters.
Despite not being the official boss of the Dodgers, the attention surrounding the two-time Most Valuable Player is undeniable.
The 29-year-old Japanese sensation faced a throng of over 50 reporters at Camelback Ranch for his debut interview as a Dodger. Surrounded by media eager to hear from baseball’s first $700 million man, Ohtani, through his interpreter, addressed the challenges of blending in with his new teammates.
“It’s tough with all the attention, but I’m approaching this like a rookie,” Ohtani said. “I want to build camaraderie with my teammates.”
The Dodgers kicked off their spring training with pitchers and catchers reporting for duty. While stars like Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman were yet to arrive, the team showed early promise ahead of their opener against San Diego in Seoul, South Korea, on March 20.
Ohtani, known for his dual prowess as both a pitcher and a hitter, will focus solely on batting this season due to elbow surgery. Despite this setback, he remains optimistic about his offensive capabilities.
“I believe there’s room for improvement in my hitting,” Ohtani remarked. “It depends on the lineup I’m in.”
With a formidable lineup that includes Betts, Freeman, Max Muncy, and Will Smith, Ohtani is eager to make his mark.
“I’m almost at full effort in my swing,” Ohtani stated. “The next step is facing live pitching.”
Ohtani’s arrival in Los Angeles marks one of many significant storylines for the Dodgers, who have invested heavily in talent acquisition, including Ohtani’s blockbuster deal. Manager Dave Roberts expressed excitement about Ohtani’s potential contribution.
“Everything he does is deliberate, which is remarkable,” Roberts said. “He’s determined to win as a Dodger, and we’re thrilled to have him.”
As Ohtani adjusts to his new environment, all eyes will be on the Dodgers as they aim for success in the upcoming season.