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Ohhhhhhh-tani!

 
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dodgerblue6



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PostPosted: Mon 11/27/17 10:42 am    Post subject: Ohhhhhhh-tani! Reply with quote

The hype has been building since early this year.

We missed seeing him play in the WBC last spring, but that didn't stop the buzz in the U.S. about Shohei Ohtani. He's been called "the most interesting man in baseball" by Sports on Earth, and all I've seen of him on the field, limited though it may have been, indicates that he is.

I'm starting this thread separately from the Hot Stove thread because of the type of player this 23 year old from Japan is, and the attention he is commanding on the MLB market. He's been called the "Babe Ruth" of Japan. Very few players have been as exciting as two-way players, and the stakes are going to be high. Imagine having someone with so much all-around talent!

Let the bidding begin!
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sunnyblue



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PostPosted: Mon 11/27/17 3:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Go get him, Dodgers. This is a great fit!
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forloveofthegame



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PostPosted: Wed 11/29/17 12:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I think your Dodgers have a good shot. I have also heard the Mariners are one of the top teams making a great pitch for him. There are the Twins and Rangers too, but I think he would be a better fit on the West coast. (But not in S.F. Lol)

The thing I am not clear on is why go to an AL team if he could add a big bat to the lineup when he's pitching, and could stay in the NL, and play the outfield when needed too? Seems with pinch hitting and all the different ways you could use him in the NL he should sign with an NL team. It would be fun to see how many different ways they could use him, except as a Padre fan I would not want to see him doing all those things for another team we would have to play a lot.
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dodgerblue6



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PostPosted: Thu 11/30/17 8:44 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It seems MLB is ironing out all the details and then the bidding wars can begin. I love his down-to-earth attitude about connecting with the fans, as described in this article from MLB.com.
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dodgerblue6



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PostPosted: Mon 12/4/17 8:26 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

And with the start of (so-called) winter meetings today, there have been reports over the weekend about Ohtani's desire to play for a small market team on the West Coast. Question If so, Cathy's team in is a serious contender. At the same time, I've heard that all three of the Dodgers, Jints and Angels are all in the running, which would indicate otherwise.

Stay tuned as the bidding battles get underway!
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sunnyblue



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PostPosted: Mon 12/4/17 8:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Everywhere you go, it's a different story. When we were in OC this weekend, Angels fans were saying anywhere but Seattle. Dodger fans are saying anywhere but S.F. Seems like it's a good guessing game to keep everyone interested.
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forloveofthegame



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PostPosted: Tue 12/5/17 11:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

It's exciting to follow when your team is in the running and the Yankees are not! I am quite intrigued by how this kid ticks.

4 reasons the Padres could get him - article from padres.com
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dodgerblue6



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PostPosted: Wed 12/6/17 8:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I see where the Padres are the last team to "make their pitch", so to speak.
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forloveofthegame



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PostPosted: Fri 12/8/17 11:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Kevin Acee's take on it - linked here
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dodgerblue6



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PostPosted: Fri 12/8/17 5:04 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Honestly, I never saw this coming!

Shohei Ohtani has signed with the Angels...details to be posted in "Hot Stove" thread.

So much for speculation.
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forloveofthegame



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PostPosted: Wed 12/13/17 9:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

There was a lot of hysteria from fans over the last couple of days about Ohtani's health background and in particular a UCL tear. I was really busy today but want to check into this more.
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dodgerblue6



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PostPosted: Thu 12/14/17 1:09 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Yeah, there was a lot of panic on the part of Angels fans a couple of days ago. All teams knew about this before bidding opened, though. It's minor.
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sunnyblue



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PostPosted: Sun 12/17/17 1:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I am not worried about it.
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dodgerblue6



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PostPosted: Fri 3/9/18 5:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Wow! Did anyone else read the L.A. Times story about how much of an effort the Dodgers made to woo Shohei Ohtani, but to no avail?

Reading this, I don't feel so bad that they didn't sign him.

"Inside the Dodgers' Failed, Frustrating Bid for Two-Way Sensation Shohei Ohtani"

by Andy McCullough

MAR 07, 2018


One day in early December, as the years-long pursuit of a baseball enigma approached its conclusion, a trio of Dodgers converged on the offices of the Creative Artists Agency in Century City.

Clayton Kershaw took a flight in from Dallas on the day of his wedding anniversary. Justin Turner escaped the frenzy of planning his own wedding to join. Chris Taylor hopped an early-morning jet from Virginia Beach. The players huddled with members of their front office for a singular purpose: to convince Shohei Ohtani to become a Dodger.

The Dodgers had scouted Ohtani since his first year in high school in a rugged prefecture in northern Japan. Ohtani came to Los Angeles this winter as a 23-year-old phenom. He aimed to replicate a feat unseen since the days of Babe Ruth: He planned to hit and to pitch at baseball's highest level. And he sought in-person interviews with the seven clubs he deemed worthy of his services.

For about three hours, according to people who attended the meeting, Dodgers representatives tried to persuade Ohtani. They hyped the organization's past and future. They vouched for the comfort of Los Angeles. They searched for hints about his intentions, but the players found his answers inscrutable. It seemed like Ohtani had already made up his mind.

"I felt like it was a waste of my time," Turner said.

A few days later, Ohtani made his decision. He was coming to Southern California.

To be an Angel.

"Just a gigantic waste of time," Kershaw said.

It would have been a lot of work, for one particular player, and a lot of sacrifices for other guys

The announcement did not surprise Kershaw. Ohtani had not played the field regularly since 2014. The Angels provided Ohtani a chance to be a designated hitter, a perk no National League team like the Dodgers could offer. Ohtani manned that position during a spring training game on Wednesday at Tempe Diablo Stadium, when he crossed paths with Kershaw for the first time since December.

Kershaw harbored no malice toward Ohtani, whom he called "a very respectful guy." He directed his antipathy toward Ohtani's agent, Nez Balelo, for the secretive process. Balelo insisted the suggestion Ohtani had made a decision before meeting with the Dodgers was "unfounded."

On the mound, Kershaw demonstrated the enormity of the task facing Ohtani. In the third inning, Kershaw snapped a gorgeous curveball in a two-strike count. Ohtani stared as it landed in the catcher's glove. The umpire pumped a fist and Ohtani could only grin in awe as he returned to his dugout.

Inside a suite in the stadium's second level, Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman watched the at-bat. He lacked interest in rehashing his zeal for Ohtani. He maintained a diplomatic stance about the failed recruiting pitch. "The burden was on us to try to sell the National League," Friedman said. "We appreciated that it was an uphill battle, but it was well worth the effort."

For Ohtani, the learning curve this spring has been steep. He has one hit in 11 at-bats. He surrendered a home run in his first game as a pitcher and could not complete the second inning. His ability remains immense, if thus far unproven at the major league level.

The Angels made a slew of adjustments to accommodate Ohtani. They will experiment with a six-man rotation to give him more time to rest between pitching appearances. They asked 38-year-old veteran Albert Pujols — who had been the club's DH — to start at first base on a regular basis for the first time since 2015. When Ohtani pitches, manager Mike Scioscia operates with fewer players on his bench.

Those compromises fly in the face of the Dodgers' governing principles. The organization rarely caters to individuals outside of Kershaw — who mostly asks to be left alone. Manager Dave Roberts juggles his batting order on a daily basis, shortens the outings of his starting pitchers and asks his bullpen to operate without concrete roles.

The Dodgers preach collectivism above all. Yet team officials felt Ohtani merited the adjustments.

"It would have been a lot of work, for one particular player, and a lot of sacrifices for other guys," Roberts said. "But when you look at the caliber of player — you don't do that for everyone. He's a special type of player."

The value of Ohtani sprung from more than his ability. Eager to test himself in the majors, Ohtani chose to leave Nippon Professional Baseball before he turned 25. Under Major League Baseball's collective bargaining agreement, Ohtani could sign only a rookie-level contract with a small signing bonus. The financial risk was minimal; the reward appeared uncapped.

Friedman pondered how to utilize Ohtani for several years, and in August traveled to Japan with a scouting contingent. The front office poured hundreds of hours into the pursuit and developing a plan to integrate Ohtani into their roster and their clubhouse. Team officials pondered his preferences and his habits. He was willing to forgo a potential nine-figure contract. If money wasn't a factor, what drove him?

On December 1, Ohtani became available. A whirlwind ensued, as teams jockeyed for his services. Ohtani winnowed his suitors to seven teams: the Dodgers, Angels, Chicago Cubs, San Francisco Giants, San Diego Padres, Texas Rangers and Seattle Mariners. Outside of the Cubs, all six were West Coast teams. Only three were in the American League. (DB note: WHEN DID TEXAS MOVE TO THE WEST COAST?)

Given a short window to assemble a personalized presentation for Ohtani, the Dodgers scrambled to convene Kershaw, Turner and Taylor. Friedman denied the suggestion that the team invited Taylor so he could speak critically about the Mariners, another finalist. "Of course that's not what it is," Friedman said.

The players joined a group that included Friedman, Roberts, General Manager Farhan Zaidi, team president Stan Kasten and strength and conditioning coach Brandon McDaniel. Each man offered a different element of the pitch.
Turner outlined his passion for the team's culture, but felt he could not forge a bond with Ohtani.

"He might as well have not been sitting there," Turner said, using an expletive for emphasis. "We might as well have been speaking to a window."

At one point, Turner recalled, Ohtani was asked for his true preference: Would he rather hit or pitch? "And he said, 'Whatever the manager says.' I was like 'Come on,'" Turner said.

Kershaw sensed a similar disconnect. He felt it was obvious Ohtani had no interest in returning to the outfield, the position he played in his teens. Kershaw blamed Balelo for not communicating this.

"It really just seemed like it was pre-determined that he wanted to DH," Kershaw said. "I'm kind of mad at his agent for making us waste all that time and effort. Fifteen teams should have been out of it, from the beginning. I know it's probably frustrating for everybody in the National League. A lot of guys spent a lot of time trying to figure out what makes him tick, and try to get him over here."

Ohtani declined to reveal how he felt about the Dodgers' presentation. Ohtani "can't talk about that process," according to his interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara. Balelo defended his client in a statement emailed to The Times.

"From the beginning, Shohei was fully committed to a fair process," Balelo said. "He asked teams for honest information and was honest with the teams. To suggest he would ask any club to meet with him without being open to playing for that club is unfounded and an insult to his personal ethics. In fact, the majority of the teams invited to make in-person presentations were National League clubs."

Roberts exited the meeting with a different impression than his players. He described Ohtani as "very engaged" in the presentation. But he had a similar conclusion. "I think it was already predetermined: He wanted to go to the American League," Roberts said.

Roberts shrugged. When it came to Ohtani, he felt, there was little the Dodgers could do.

"I still think we're the best team in baseball," Roberts said. "That's his decision. We wish him well. We've turned the page on him."

andy.mccullough@latimes.com

Andy McCullough covers the Dodgers for the Los Angeles Times. He joined The Times in 2016 after stints at the Kansas City Star and the Star-Ledger in Newark, N.J. A graduate of Syracuse University, he grew up in the suburbs of Philadelphia.

(DB6 COMMENT: I wonder whatever happened to that desire to play for a small market team???)

Also, it looks like we've got another East Coast hack covering the Dodgers this season...
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forloveofthegame



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PostPosted: Tue 3/13/18 6:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

That was quite a story.
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dodgerblue6



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PostPosted: Tue 4/3/18 8:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Just so you all know, I'm not going to keep jumping back and forth between this thread and the Angels thread, but I had just a couple of articles of observation to post about Shoh-time now that his first major league start is in the books. Then, I don't think this thread will keep going forever, unless there's some specific topic to address about him as a two-way player rather than just as an Angel.

From the L.A. Times, here are two by Dylan Hernandez:

"Angels' Shohei Ohtani Has His Flaws, But He Also Has the Look of a Future Superstar"

By DYLAN HERNANDEZ
APR 01, 2018 | 6:40 PM


Watch how easily Shohei Ohtani touched 99 mph with his fastball Sunday and you will understand why he's always smiling. See how Ohtani responded to giving up a three-run home run and you will comprehend why he looked as if he never questioned whether he could recover from a statistically awful exhibition season. Look at how much he transformed in his first major-league start and you will think he could one day realize his ambition of becoming the No. 1 player on the planet.

The experiment will work. Ohtani will become modern baseball's first two-way player.

That was the overwhelming feeling in the aftermath of the Angels' 7-4 victory at the Oakland Coliseum, where Ohtani registered his first win by limiting the Athletics to three runs and three hits over six innings. He struck out six.

The process could take months or years, but it will happen, provided the Angels remain patient.

The confidence wasn't inspired by his numbers, but by how he looked.

As the team's designated hitter on Opening Day, he was nothing like the off-balance batter he was in the spring training, as he singled in his first at-bat and made solid contact a couple of other times. His improvement on the mound was even more striking.

The game served as the pitching equivalent of his spectacular rounds of batting practice, which have prevented skeptics from completely dismissing his chances as a hitter.

The three hits and three runs charged to him came over a three-batter stretch in the second inning, when Matt Joyce and Stephen Piscotty singled in succession and scored on a home run by Matt Chapman.

"The way he shut down the hitters after that was impressive," catcher Martin Maldonado said.

Ohtani threw 92 pitches and maintained his fastball velocity through the sixth inning, when one particular pitch was clocked at 98.1 mph by the stadium radar gun.

Twenty-eight of Ohtani's pitches flashed 97 mph or faster, including a first-inning fastball that was recorded at 99.6 mph.

Mixing in sliders and curveballs, Ohtani was the particularly effective with his splitter, which he had trouble throwing in spring training because of Arizona's dry climate.

He said he could throw the pitch with confidence because of Maldonado.

"He reacted well to my low splitters and caught them very cleanly," Ohtani said in Japanese.

Before the game, the 23-year-old right-hander yawned as he changed into his uniform. When Cam Bedrosian walked by his locker, he bumped fists with the reliever. He looked over to infielder Nolan Fontana and said to him in English, "Good morning."

"On the whole, I feel like I had a lot of fun," Ohtani said. "I think those feelings were more intense than the nervousness I felt."

Ohtani scaled the mound for the bottom of the first inning at 1:13 p.m. Pacific time. Simply being there didn't provide Ohtani with a sense of accomplishment.

"More than feeling like I made it, I felt like I was just starting," Ohtani said.

The Angels scored twice in the top of the second inning against Athletics starter Daniel Gossett, only for Ohtani to blow the lead.

"To summarize it in one word, it was wasteful," Ohtani said. "If I had lost that game, I felt I would have been regretful.

"The contents of the start were largely good. I thought I attacked well early in the counts. What I did wrong was throwing hittable pitches late in the counts. That kept happening and they hit a bad slider."

There were other aspects of the start that could have been nitpicked. He threw strikes, but didn't necessarily command the ball well in the zone. He threw several letter-high sliders.

But throwing close to 100 mph can make mistakes less costly.

In particular, there was a 0-2 splitter Ohtani threw to Khris Davis with two outs in the sixth inning. The Angels were holding on to a 4-3 advantage at the time.

Davis popped up to end the inning, prompting a relieved Ohtani to tap himself on his chest as he returned to the bench.

"It was a situation where I couldn't give up a home run," Ohtani said. "I worked a two-strike count, but at the end, I threw a pitch that was easy to hit. The moment that I threw it, I thought it would be a home run. I felt lucky."

Ohtani received the game ball. As was the case with the ball he sent into right field for his first major league hit, Ohtani said he would probably to give it to his parents.

"Individually, I think I've gotten off to a good start. As a team, too, we're able to go into the next series with a win," he said.

Ohtani didn't make any promises about the future.

"Just because it went well today you don't know if it will go well again next time," he said.

That could be the case. But at some point, it will.

dylan.hernandez@latimes.com

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

That followed this one, that previewed his pitching debut.

"Angels' Shohei Ohtani is a Japanese Comic Book Fantasy Come to Life"

By DYLAN HERNANDEZ
MAR 31, 2018 | 7:10 PM


The protagonists of Japanese comic books come in various forms. There are warriors and ghost hunters, surgeons and teachers, detectives and chefs.
And, of course, athletes.

The authors of sports-themed stories have taken the liberties of bestowing their characters with supernatural abilities, creating soccer players with shots that burn nets and baseball players who throw pitches that disappear.

The concept of a baseball player who can pitch and hit has existed in this realm of fantasy for some time. Now, it's taking a real-life form in a 23-year-old from the same country that dreamed up the possibility.

Three days after he was the designated hitter in the Angels lineup, Shohei Ohtani will start as a pitcher at the Oakland Coliseum.

If Ohtani succeeds in becoming modern baseball's first two-way player, he will be doing something incredible even by comic book standards.

Ohtani is known to have read "Major," in which fictional character Goro Shigeno pitched and hit professionally, but not at the same time. Shigeno, who like Ohtani played for a team based in Anaheim and threw over 100 mph, became a hitter after an injury to his left shoulder forced him to abandon pitching. (Shigeno was on his second arm; he learned to pitch left-handed after hurting his right shoulder as a child.)

Ohtani shares more than cartoonish talent with these imaginary pitchers. Like them, he doesn't have any known interests outside of baseball. And like them, he has maintained a boyish enthusiasm for the game.

Tomohiro Kuroki was relieved to see that hadn't changed when he visited with Ohtani this week.

"He looks like he's having fun," Kuroki said in Japanese.

A former pitcher in the Japanese league, Kuroki was a pitching coach for the Nippon-Ham Fighters in the five years Ohtani played for the team. Kuroki is in Oakland this week as an analyst with satellite television channel J Sports.

Ohtani was only 18 when Kuroki started working with him.

"He was very mature, very smart," Kuroki said. "He was extremely coachable."

Ohtani always seemed to know where he was headed and Kuroki imagined that remains the case today.

"I'm guessing that inside, he already has a plan for the next year, for the year after that, for five years down the road, for 10 years down the road," Kuroki said. "I'm sure he's thinking of that. He's the type of player who feels that if he follows his plan, there won't be any problems. He's not the kind of player who is affected by the statistics or the expectations of others."

Kuroki marveled not only at how Ohani studied opposing hitters, but also how he could make in-game adjustments if he had trouble throwing certain pitches.

There were times Kuroki or some of the other coaches had advice for Ohtani.
Oftentimes, Ohtani would make the adjustment they had in mind before they could deliver the message.

"We created an environment in which we let him work how he wanted to work," Kuroki said.

The entire Fighters organization was invested in Ohtani's success. By offering him the opportunity to be a two-way player, the Fighters convinced Ohtani to remain in Japan rather than sign with a major league franchise out of high school.

"A player like that is a treasure," Kuroki said. "He has a chance to make history and the entire Fighters organization worked to help him get there. But the person who worked the hardest was him."

Kuroki added, "He has a strong heart."

Which made him dependable in important games. Ohtani was a two-way workhorse for the Fighters when they won the Japan Series in 2016.

"When you start him in a game you can't afford to lose, he changes," Kuroki said.

Ohtani was underwhelming in spring training and Kuroki said it was reasonable to expect him to require time to adjust to the major leagues. At the same time, Kuroki wouldn't discount the possibility of Ohtani succeeding immediately.

"If you watch his exhibition games, it's indisputable that he struggled," Kuroki said. "But he's a player who has the ability to do something entirely different when he climbs on that mound for a real game. When he makes his major league start or if he pitches in a game that could result in a postseason berth, I think he will unleash something incredible."

Perhaps like something out of a comic book.

dylan.hernandez@latimes.com
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forloveofthegame



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PostPosted: Sun 4/8/18 12:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

He really is an exciting player to watch! Fun hitter but I look forward to his second start of the season for the Angels today.
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