Embattled Shohei Ohtani delivers for Dodgers in first home game


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Embattled Shohei Ohtani delivers for Dodgers in first home game

MONEY OHTANI. Los Angeles Dodgers designated hitter Shohei Ohtani (17) at home plate against the St. Louis Cardinals during the first inning at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jonathan Hui-USA TODAY Sports

USA TODAY Sports via Reuters Con

Baseball superstar Shohei Ohtani receives a thunderous welcome despite off-field issues in his first home game with the Los Angeles Dodgers

Shohei Ohtani said he was grateful for the warm welcome he received in his first home game in a Dodgers’ uniform and rewarded the sold-out Los Angeles crowd by reaching base three times in a 7-1 win over St. Louis on Thursday (Friday, March 29, Manila time).

The Japanese was greeted with thunderous applause when he was introduced on a sunny day at Chavez Ravine and repaid the fans with a solid performance that included a single, double and walk.

“I’m very grateful now to be part of the Dodgers and to be received by the Dodgers fans,” said Ohtani, who joined the club on a record 10-year $700 million contract from the Los Angeles Angels in the off-season.

“Obviously, I’ve been here before as an opponent player so it was a little bit intimidating, but I’m very grateful for the fans, and there were a lot of them.”

In his first at-bat, Ohtani, who has been embroiled in a betting scandal involving his former interpreter Ippei Mizuhara, was aggressive, fouling off pitches before being thrown out while trying to stretch a double into a triple.

Blue-and-white clad Dodgers fans appreciated the hustle from their new designated hitter and the twice MVP was lifted by another pair of MVPs as Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman both homered in the third inning.

“I was the only guy who couldn’t hit a homer but overall I thought I had a pretty good game today,” said Ohtani, who has said he was the victim of theft and denied any wrongdoing in the matter which is being investigated by MLB.

“Overall, I had quality at-bats.”

Tyler Glasnow pitched six solid innings as the Dodgers cruised to victory.

After a spending spree in which the team signed Ohtani and right-handed pitchers Yoshinobu Yamamoto and Glasnow, expectations are sky high for a Dodgers organization desperate for a World Series victory after three straight 100-win seasons ended in failure. –

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