Shohei Ohtani ‘Very Grateful’ For Support From Dodgers Fans On Opening Day At Dodger Stadium

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The Los Angeles Dodgers held their home opener on Thursday as they hosted the St. Louis Cardinals, and it also marked Shohei Ohtani’s first time playing at Dodger Stadium while wearing blue.

The Dodgers, of course, signed Ohtani in the offseason to a record-setting 10-year, $700 million contract, and since then, attention and excitement has been constantly building toward his debut.

Ohtani’s already had some up and down moments with his new franchise, which included getting married, and also being the potential victim of theft by his friend and former interpreter Ippei Mizuhara.

But Ohtani was able to put all the off-the-field matters behind him and enjoy the moment with the Dodgers. That started when he was introduced as part of the Dodgers’ opening ceremony, which included a blue carpet walk from center field to in front of the third base dugout.

“I felt the walk was a little too long, but the ceremony was well done,” Ohtani joked through interpreter Will Ireton.

He was immediately greeted with cheers from Dodgers fans, and that carried over into his first at-bat at Dodger Stadium as a member of the home team.

“Very grateful,” Ohtani said. “Now as part of the Dodgers, being able to be received by Dodgers fans, obviously I’ve been here before as an opposing player, which was a little intimidating. I’m very grateful for all the fans. There were a lot of them.”

Ohtani ended up putting on a strong debut game at his new home stadium, going 2-for-3 with a double, one run scored and a walk.

“Overall I had quality at-bats,” Ohtani said. “The last at-bat, I wanted to make sure Freddie got his next at-bat. That was something I wanted to do.”

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts also liked what he saw from his designated hitter who has been trying to get his swing back after falling into a small slump in exhibition play.

“Yes, and even in Korea, he hit some balls that I think would’ve been homers,” Roberts said. “In that Anaheim series it just didn’t look right, but today it looked more like Shohei. Riding out that changeup early for the double, and then the base hit was obviously hit really hard. Today was much better.”

Overall, the big three in the Dodgers order did exactly what they were supposed to do, going a combined 6-for-8 with six runs scored, two home runs and four RBI in the 7-1 victory.

“It’s tough to navigate three times through for a starter,” Roberts said of the top three in the Dodgers lineup. “These guys hit really good pitching.

“And waiting in the wings, you’ve got Will Smith, who is just going to continue to take good at-bats. I really liked the way Max Muncy swung the bat. The sac fly and just staying on the baseball. In the past, spin would get him but I think now just prioritizing being a good hitter.

“Drove in another run, I really liked his at-bats. If we can get him to do that, it’s going to be really, really difficult to navigate.”

Despite the Dodgers big three carrying the club to a victory, Ohtani joked there was a piece to it that was lacking. “I was the only guy who couldn’t hit a homer, but overall I thought I had a pretty good game,” he said.

Shohei Ohtani explains baserunning mistake

While Ohtani doubled in his first at-bat, he also had a mishap on the bases as he ran into an out at third base. Mookie Betts, who was the lead runner, was held up by third base coach Dino Ebel, which resulted in Ohtani being tagged out.

“I just passed by the bag way quicker than the lead runner, so I wasn’t able to pick up Dino on time,” Ohtani said. “It’s a situation I haven’t encountered during Spring Training, so I confirmed with Dino, and we’ll make the adjustments.”

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