Before signing with the Angels, Japanese two-way star Shohei Ohtani narrowed his list to seven teams, and heard in-person presentations from each. Players from one of those teams, at least, say the whole thing was a farce and Ohtani shouldn’t have wasted their time.
The Los Angeles Times speaks with Clayton Kershaw and Justin Turner, who interrupted their offseason (in Kershaw’s case, on his anniversary, and for Turner, in the middle of planning his wedding) to spend three hours trying to sell Ohtani on the Dodgers. And despite four of the Ohtani finalists being in the National League, Kershaw and Turner sound convinced that Ohtani never had any intentions of going to a team without the designated hitter.
“It really just seemed like it was pre-determined that he wanted to DH,” Kershaw said. “I’m kind of mad at his agent for making us waste all that time and effort. Fifteen teams should have been out of it, from the beginning. I know it’s probably frustrating for everybody in the National League. A lot of guys spent a lot of time trying to figure out what makes him tick, and try to get him over here.”
Ohtani will indeed DH in Anaheim (he hasn’t played the outfield since high school), and the Angels will go to a six-man rotation to accommodate him. The Dodgers say they promised to be equally accommodating, but simply couldn’t offer the same opportunity as an AL team. Turner says it was clear from the start that Ohtani wasn’t interested.
“He might as well have not been sitting there,” Turner said, using an expletive for emphasis. “We might as well have been speaking to a window.”
At one point, Turner recalled, Ohtani was asked for his true preference: Would he rather hit or pitch? “And he said, ‘Whatever the manager says.’ I was like ‘Come on,’” Turner said.
Turner said the whole thing was a “waste of my time.” Kershaw agreed: “Just a gigantic waste of time.”
Kershaw got some tiny measure of revenge on Wednesday, freezing Ohtani with a nose-to-toes curveball for the strikeout:
Ohtani’s scuffled a bit in spring training, but he’ll be fine. And hey, maybe any lingering bad blood about his choice, combined with an active offseason for Anaheim, means we’ll get a nice little Dodgers-Angels feud going this year.