KAMAGAYA, Japan (Reuters) – Japanese fans braved the winter cold on Friday to catch a glimpse of Los Angeles Angels star Shohei Ohtani in training for the upcoming American baseball season.
The Angels won a heated race late last year to sign the 23-year-old, who was an accomplished pitcher and batter for his former club, the Hokkaido Nippon Ham-Fighters.
Ohtani was at Kamagaya Stadium, an hour’s drive from Tokyo, on Friday, taking practice swings and doing some light running as fans looked on.
“I think for all teams, including the Angels, it’s a major goal to win the World Series,” Ohtani told reporters.
“I want to begin practising now with the hopes of helping the team get closer to that goal.”
Ohtani, who pitches right-handed, had a 2.52 earned run average (ERA) in five seasons with the Ham-Fighters. The left-handed batter hit .332 in 2017 and has slugged 48 home runs in 1,035 career at-bats.
Ohtani’s two-way ability has prompted comparisons with Hall of Famer Babe Ruth, who hit a combined 40 home runs while batting .312 for the Boston Red Sox in 1918 and 1919.
Ruth also had a 2.55 ERA before he became a fulltime outfielder after being traded to the New York Yankees.
(Reporting by Teppei Kasai, editing by Darren Schuettler)