(Reuters) – Japanese two-way standout Shohei Ohtani is keeping his cool under the spotlight following his high-profile move to the Los Angeles Angels, saying he is only focused on helping the Major League Baseball (MLB) side win.
The 23-year-old, who has proven himself as both a big hitter and a powerful pitcher in five seasons with Japan’s Nippon Ham Fighters, garnered interest from several MLB teams before sealing a surprise move to the Angels in December.
Ohtani took part in his first workout for the Angels on Wednesday, striking his first home run, and is fairly confident about adapting his style to help the club turn their fortunes around.
“Honestly, since my days in Japan, I never really felt that pressure that everyone’s been talking about around me. I just feel like I’ve got to go there, do my job and help the team win…,” Ohtani told reporters.
“I wasn’t really used to today’s style, so I wasn’t able to perform at my fullest… I’ll have fun making some adjustments from here on out for the next few days.
“Basically, I’m not going to try to change anything from what I was doing in Japan. If that doesn’t translate well over here, then I’ll make the small adjustments that will be needed.”
The Angels have failed to make the playoffs for the last three seasons.
Ohtani played 403 games for the Fighters, posting a 42-15 record with a 2.52 earned run average (ERA) as a right-handed pitcher along with a hitting average of .286 and 48 home runs as a left-handed batter.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia said that Ohtani is most likely to be used as a pitcher in a six-man rotation and backed the new recruit to maintain his focus during the adjustment period.
(Reporting by Aditi Prakash in Bengaluru; Editing by John O’Brien)