Ohtani hits residence coast from his knee in return to Team Japan 

11:25 AM UTC

The final time Shohei Ohtani donned the uniform of Samurai Japan, he was as soon as ethical 21 years aged and was as soon as quiet two years away from joining the Angels and gracing The US’s shores. He final conducted for the personnel in an exhibition on Nov. 13, 2016, in opposition to The Netherlands, going 0-for-1 in a pinch-hit look. (The day earlier than, Ohtani was as soon as to birth with lineup and went 2-for-5 with — you guessed it — a rental coast.) He wasn’t on Japan’s 2017 World Baseball Classic roster and hadn’t appeared with the nation since joining the Main Leagues.

On Monday night interior a packed Kyocera Dome, as Japan took on the Hanshin Tigers in its first exhibition sport earlier than the 2023 World Baseball Classic begins, Ohtani in the end placed on Japan’s iconic white pinstriped jersey again. He gave the fans what they were purchasing for.

After placing out in his first at-bat, Ohtani got here to the plate within the stay of the third in opposition to the Tigers’ Hiroto Saiki. This time, he didn’t scamper away out. Despite the truth that he had to switch all the map down to his left knee, the 2-scheme megastar lifted the ball excessive over the center-field wall for a 3-coast residence coast.

“As my bodily condition is no longer if truth be told 100% on memoir of of jetlag, I catch a minute bit unnerved about missing a pitch over the plate,” Ohtani acknowledged. “Calm, I was as soon as in a location to score a real swing on a slice up.”

One Eastern fan was as soon as rapidly to demonstrate the similarity between Ohtani’s swing and one other ragged tall leaguer, Adrián Beltré.

Two innings later, Ohtani did it again, smashing one other moonshot over the center-field fence — supreme this time he didn’t want to switch to a knee.

Ohtani even effectively-known with the pepper grinder celebration — one thing his contemporary Samurai Japan teammate Lars Nootbaar taught him earlier than the sport. 

“We wished that we wished a minute hit celebration, one thing to switch,” Nootbaar acknowledged. “We didn’t if truth be told know what to achieve up with. And so he acknowledged, whatever I exit there and enact first that’s what we’re gonna roll with. So, I went out [and got a hit] within the principle inning, we bought the pepper grinder within the market. And you know, we form of stuck with it.”

Japan will birth up its title wander on March 9 at 5 a.m. ET in opposition to China on FS1.

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