July 11, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; American League designated hitter/pitch Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (17) reacted during the second inning at T-Mobile Park. Image: Stephen Brashear-USA TODAY Sports
SEATTLE — Shohei Ohtani missed a ball during Tuesday night’s All-Star Game, but the experience was nonetheless memorable.
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The suspended Los Angeles Angels free agent was greeted with a chorus of “welcome to Seattle” chants when he stepped into the penalty box as the second batter of the night for the American League.
“Never experienced anything like it, but I’ve definitely heard of it,” he said. “But I try to focus on my punches.”
Ohtani attacked National League starter Zac Gallen, but that didn’t prevent the crowd at T-Mobile Park from reigniting the chants in Ohtani’s second hit. He walked before being replaced by Kansas City’s Salvador Perez.
“Every time I come here the fans are so excited, they really love the game,” Ohtani said. “So, it’s really impressive. I actually spent a few seasons in Seattle. So I love the city. It’s beautiful.”
Ohtani, 29, has 32 home runs and 71 RBI in 89 games this season. The two-way star is also 7-4 with a 3.32 ERA in 17 starts.
Whether the Angels will consider moving Ohtani before the trade deadline is still up for debate. Los Angeles entered the All-Star break 45-46 and are seven games behind Texas in the AL West. The Angels are also five games behind the last wild card spot in the league
Ohtani acknowledged on Tuesday that reaching the playoffs has a higher priority every year.
“That feeling is getting stronger every year,” Ohtani said through his translator, Ippei Mizuhara. “It’s sad to lose. (I want) to win, so it’s getting stronger every year.”
–Derek Harper, Field Level Media