Angels celebrate Ohtani's arrival
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Los Angeles (AFP)
The Los Angeles Angels rolled out the red carpet for prized Japanese acquisition Shohei Ohtani on Saturday.
In an introductory press conference worthy of Hollywood -- located not so far north of the Angels' Anaheim home -- the 23-year-old two-way threat was feted by Angels manager Mike Scioscia and general manager Billy Eppler.
"I look forward to playing in front of all you fans and hopefully we can bring a championship back to Anaheim," Ohtani said through an interpreter.
Ohtani, whose 100 mph (161 km/h) fastball and explosive presence at the plate made him a target of myriad Major League Baseball clubs, plumped for the Angels on Friday.
He agreed to a contract worth some $2.3 million. It wasn't the absolute most he could have made, but Ohtani, who narrowed his potential clubs to a short list of seven before choosing the Angels -- said he felt a "strong connection with the Angels and that was pretty much the biggest reason why I decided to sign with the Angels".
An ankle injury hampered him in 2017, but the year before he dazzled for the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters, batting .322 with 22 homers while going 10-4 with a 1.86 earned run average on the mound.
Ohtani wants to become the first two-way player in Major League Baseball since Babe Ruth pitched in 17 games in 1919.
"I'm honored to be compared to Babe Ruth, but in no way do I think I'm at his level," said Ohtani, who donned his new number 17 Angels jersey for the first time.
Scioscia said the Angels do intend to use Ohtani as a two-way player, but just how that will take shape remains to be seen.
Eppler said the club is "open-minded" to the idea of a six-man pitching rotation, which would give Ohtani more recovery time. But Eppler said he wouldn't be playing in the outfield in the coming season.
© 2017 AFP