Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Sports Digest: Angels Newcomer Ohtani Says Goodbye to Japan

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Sports Digest: Angels Newcomer Ohtani Says Goodbye to Japan

Article excerpt

Angels newcomer Ohtani says goodbye to Japan

Los Angeles Angels-bound Shohei Ohtani bid farewell to fans of his former Japanese club on Monday as he sets off to join his new team. The star pitcher and hitter wore an Angels jersey to his public news conference in Sapporo. He opened with an introduction in English, saying: "Long time, no see. I'm Shohei Ohtani. Welcome to my press conference. Please enjoy." The Sapporo Dome crowd erupted in laughter and applause. For five seasons, Ohtani called Sapporo home, playing for the Nippon Ham Fighters. He intends to be a starting pitcher and everyday hitter with the Angels. Ohtani, the reigning Japanese Pacific League MVP, threw one final ceremonial pitch from the Sapporo Dome mound. He spurned other major-league offers to join the Angels, who are coming off their second consecutive losing season and haven't won a playoff game since 2009.

Ohtani, 23, was 3-2 with a 3.20 ERA while slowed by thigh and ankle injuries. But those numbers don't indicate the potential for a pitcher whose fastball has topped 100 mph. Scouts are more divided on Ohtani's ability to consistently hit big-league pitching. He batted .332 in 65 games with eight homers and 31 RBIs last season, occasionally unleashing the tape-measure blasts that captivated prospective teams. In 2016, Ohtani hit .322 with 22 home runs and 67 RBIs in 104 games. He also was 10-4 with a 1.86 ERA.

Ohtani will try to become the majors' first regular two-way player in decades. The Angels plan to use him as a designated hitter and a pitcher. Since joining the Angels this month, it was revealed that Ohtani injured the elbow of his pitching arm at the end of this past season. A report sent to all MLB clubs showed a Grade 1 sprain, and he received a platelet-rich-plasma injection in October. But the injury is not considered serious. The Angels said they're not concerned and they expect Ohtani to be ready for spring training. (AP)

Minaya back with Mets * Omar Minaya is returning to the New York Mets as a special assistant to Sandy Alderson, who replaced him as general manager after the 2010 season. Minaya was the Mets' senior assistant GM from September 1997 until February 2002, when he joined the Montreal Expos as Major League Baseball's first Hispanic GM. …

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