Shohei Ohtani delighted fans with his humor at the 2024 Dodgers Fest as he described his relationship with interpreter and friend Ippe Mizuhara.
What he said: Ohtani poked fun with some sarcasm after a Los Angeles Dodgers fan asked him how his friendship with Mizuhara developed. The latter was there to translate.
“Yeah, we are not friends or anything. We're just business partners,” Ohtani said, laughing.
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Mizuhara expressed a similar sentiment while speaking with Nippon in 2021, saying they were "kind of like friends" but more in a professional partnership. But this was more than two years ago, and reports suggest they are much closer now.
How they met: Mizuhara has been Ohtani’s interpreter since the latter was picked up by the Los Angeles Angels in 2017. He first met Ohtani when the baseball star was still a rookie in the Nippon Professional Baseball's Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters at 18 years old in 2013.
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“I'm with him 365 days of the year, which I think is different than the other interpreters,” he said. “It’s such a big part (of the job). We are together pretty much every day, longer than I’m with my wife, so it’s going to be tough if you don’t get along on a personal level."
The road ahead: The 2024 Dodgers Fest was Ohtani’s first appearance before Dodgers fans since signing a $700 million contract with the team in December. He will serve as third batter after Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman in the upcoming season, which will kick off on March 20 between the team and the San Diego Padres in South Korea.
Meanwhile, Ohtani will reportedly take a cautious approach with pitching as he continues to recover from surgery due to his torn ulnar collateral ligament. He sustained the injury in August 2023.
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