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FutureStarrLos Angeles Angels Do-It-All Star Shohei Ohtani Hits Two 3-Run HRs For Japan in WBC Tuneup
On Monday night, Angels superstar Shohei Ohtani had an impressive pregame for his World Baseball Classic debut, hitting two 3-run homers in Japan's 8-1 win against Hanshin Tigers. One of those home runs came off one knee and is garnering attention for all the right reasons.
This week the World Baseball Classic begins in Tokyo where Japan will open their Pool B campaign against China at 5 a.m. ET on Thursday morning.
On Monday, Los Angeles Angels' Shohei Ohtani hit two 3-run homers to open his World Baseball Classic tuneup for Japan. He is one of several dozen MLB players representing their national team during the event that begins Wednesday in Taiwan and runs through March 9 at Tokyo Dome.
On July 5, 1994 in Oshu, Iwate Prefecture, Ohtani began playing baseball at the tender age of eight. He quickly developed an interest in the game and by his midteens had become a star in his native nation's NPB league.
He was the top pick of the 2012 NPB draft by Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters and selected as a dual position player (pitcher and outfielder). Despite having only average statistics as both a hitter and pitcher in his debut season (2013), he quickly rose to become an iconic figure in Japan. In 2013, he earned himself an invitation into the Pacific League All-Star Game.
After a successful career in NPB, the Japanese pitcher signed a two-year contract with the Angels for two seasons in 2017. He became the first Japanese pitcher to play two positions in the majors since Babe Ruth in 1933 and the first Japanese player to do so since Ichiro Suzuki did so back in 2001.
In 2017, Ohtani had an outstanding year as both a hitter and pitcher for the Angels. He earned himself a place on the American League All-Star team, hitting.278 with 31 homers and 67 RBIs while finishing among the top 10 in runs batted in and ERA for the AL.
His impressive skills as a two-way player earned him widespread attention and eventually led him to be named the MLB's best two-way player. He is praised for his strong arm and knack for striking out batters with ease.
However, he has suffered from injuries throughout his career. In 2018, a Grade 2 UCL sprain required platelet-rich plasma and stem cell injections; later that same year a flexor strain required surgery to repair.
At 24, he's one of baseball's most renowned and captivating players. His ability to play both ways has earned him widespread fame both in Japan and beyond, making him a household name both at home and abroad. A true hero and role model for young athletes, his career hasn't been without its challenges but he has persevered through them to remain successful.
On Monday night, Los Angeles Angels star Shohei Ohtani hit two 3-run homers for Japan in an 8-1 victory against the Hanshin Tigers during an exhibition game. Now he will represent his native country during the World Baseball Classic that begins Wednesday.
The Hanshin Tigers of Osaka are Japan's oldest professional baseball team and boast the second-largest fanbase in the country. Although they only won one Japan Series championship in 1985, the Tigers have earned a reputation as one of the toughest teams to beat in Japan.
The Tigers are renowned for their fierce, never-say-die attitude towards their superior rivals in Tokyo. Despite having lost 16 out of 17 Central League seasons to the Giants, Tigers fans still hold a special place in their hearts for the team.
Ohtani has expressed his devotion to the Tigers as a fan and declared them his favorite team in the league. He has attended every home game since he was a child, loving watching them play at their stadium.
He was selected in the first round of the 1998 NPB draft by the Tigers. A graduate of high school in Kochi, Japan, he was considered a top-notch prospect when taken by the team.
Fujikawa's fastball has a late life at the end of its trajectory, giving it the appearance to "jump" in front of hitters. This pitch can be used to attack or avoid outside corners while also serving as a power pitch to pull hitters away from their plate and force them to swing at the ball.
In 2007, Fujikawa earned the position of Tigers closer and made an impressive impact by pitching to a 1.20 ERA and striking out 100 batters in 62 innings - more than any reliever in Japan that year. He was even selected for the Japanese national team at the World Baseball Classic, pitching four scoreless innings during their four-day stay in Miami.
One week before the World Baseball Classic begins, Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani hit two 3-run homers for Japan against Hanshin Tigers in an exhibition game. He took a knee to hit one but didn't let that stop him from hitting another in what was an impressive prelude to the tournament.
Last season, the Japanese star hit.286 with 18 home runs and 62 RBI in his first full-time season as a full-time player. This year he struggled with his batting average and power numbers but still put up an.848 OPS. Additionally, his stellar pitching earned him the AL Rookie of the Year Award.
Last October, while recovering from Tommy John surgery, Ohtani developed bipartite patella - two bones in his left kneecap that don't fuse together - which caused irritation and pain. While this condition is usually asymptomatic and hasn't been a major concern until now, it did become more of an issue as Ohtani's throwing progressed.
General manager Billy Eppler informed reporters Thursday that the Angels had been struggling with how to handle Ohtani's bipartite patella for most of the season, so they decided it would be best to cut short his throwing progression in order to prevent an issue with the left knee. Ohtani will undergo season-ending surgery on Friday to address this condition and should be back in action by spring training, according to Eppler.
He's already one of the biggest stars in baseball, and if the World Baseball Classic goes as expected, his value could increase even further through contract extensions or free agency. Additionally, his all-around skills haven't stopped him from leaving everyone in awe every time he steps onto the field.
But the most remarkable part of his abilities is how casually he does it. The Japanese sensation never takes a break from his incredible talent, and it's hard to imagine he would be any less excited to showcase it if he weren't so focused on being the best at what he does. When he's out on the field, adrenaline levels and focus are at their highest ever levels.
On Monday night, Los Angeles Angels' Shohei Ohtani hit two 3-run homers for Japan in an exhibition game. It marked his first time representing his country at WBC tuneup games since joining the Angels, and it's safe to say he did not disappoint.
Born in Oshu, Iwate, Japan, Shohei Ohtani began playing baseball at a young age and made his professional debut for the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters of Nippon Professional Baseball as a teenager. As a hard-throwing phenom, he quickly caught the attention of Major League Baseball teams.
He joined the Los Angeles Angels in December 2017, becoming an iconic part of their 2022 season and becoming the first two-way player ever to win a Cy Young Award. His stellar performances included a 2.33 ERA and 219 strikeouts across 166 innings while also hitting.273.
Ohtani has made quite an impression with both his pitching and hitting, and this has earned him much criticism as well as admiration in America. Despite all that, Ohtani remains a major force to be reckoned with.
After his impressive success in the NPB, he was sought-out and signed by all 30 MLB teams. As one of Japan's most highly anticipated players to join the league in decades, there was immense pressure on him to live up to expectations.
His first start as a pitcher with the Angels came in Tuesday's spring game against Oakland, when he pitched 2.1 scoreless innings without allowing any hits or walks while striking out two. Soon after, he left to Japan to prepare for the World Baseball Classic, so it looks like he may be away from the Angels for some time.
Last season, his remarkable two-way performance redefined what was possible in baseball. Now it seems clear that the Angels intend to use him more often in 2023 with manager Phil Nevin suggesting a six day rotation for him to maintain a healthy arm while increasing his workload. It would also be an amazing chance for the two-way star to add even more impressive statistics onto his already remarkable resume.