Interview with Shohei Ohtani The truth of the shock season that he talks about October 25, 18:23

Shohei Ohtani (27), who has been the center of attention this season in the major leagues,

has accomplished the dual wield of throwing, which is unprecedented in modern baseball, for a year.

The performance of the play itself, such as a home run that exceeds 160 kilometers when thrown, a home run that exceeds 140 meters when hit, and top-class speed, has even been evaluated as "exceeding" Babe Ruth, who is said to be the god of baseball, and this season MVP = The award of the best player is considered to be promising.

It's been four years since I crossed the sea, saying, "I want to be the best player in the world."

What kind of feeling did he spend in the shocking season when he could say that he was approaching that goal as much as possible?

After the season, he spoke in a solo interview.

(NHK Special Interview Group, General Bureau of the United States, Shuta Yamamoto)

I was "opaque" before the opening

"I didn't know if it would end in 10 games or throw 15 games. There were many things I didn't know."

Otani's past three years in the major leagues have been a series of fights against injuries.

In 2018, the first year, he won four wins as a pitcher and hit 22 home runs as a batter to become the rookie king, but decided to operate Tommy John to repair the ligament of his right elbow off that year.

The following year, he had a batter operating on his left knee, which is the pivotal leg.

Last season, more than a year and a half after the operation on his right elbow, he had 0 wins and 1 loss on the pitcher and an ERA of 37.80.

Even batters have a batting average of 10% and 9 minutes, which is far from the original performance, and before the opening, some American media viewed this season as "the last chance of dual wielding."

How did Otani himself feel?

Shohei Ohtani

"I threw it last season, but I thought it was a real return as a pitcher. However, how much I can throw is whether it will end in 10 games or 15 games. I didn't really know if I could be thrown or if I could throw 20 games. In that sense, I think I should have been thrown, and it's a big thing that I've been able to calculate from my expectations over the past year. Kana. I think it's a big difference for the team to be able to calculate based on this from an uncertain place. "

The key to being able to "calculate" from the opening, which was "opaque", was the White Sox game on April 4.

It was the first day for Otani to make something.

This is the first pitched game of the season, and he is the first player in the major leagues to play at the same time.

It was the first time since he became a professional that he started the pitch the day after he made a full appearance as a designated hitter.

In this match, Otani threw a ball over 160 kg for the first time in the official game after right elbow surgery, and made a good throw with 1 goal and 7 strikeouts halfway through the 5th inning.

When I hit it, I hit the light stand with a tremendous first home run in the first at bat.

Angels coach Maddon described it as "a match that silenced those who suspected dual wield."

It was a match that proved the value of the "opaque" dual wield.

Shohei Ohtani

"I thought it was important to start, or it would be difficult for me to continue using it unless I left a good impression at the beginning. There are advantages and disadvantages to releasing the designated hitter and getting out by throwing. Because there is, if you stumble at the beginning, the disadvantages will be more impressive. The director will also use it, but I think I was worried. At that time, I still have to throw a long inning. Then, I wasn't honest, so I was at the stage of politely trying my best to suppress it once, but it was the best that I was able to reduce the anxiety around me by releasing the designated hitter. think"

Decide to put up with less practice

Otani, who got off to a good start as a dual wield, mass-produced home runs.

For the first time as a Japanese player, he won the monthly MVP for two consecutive months in June and July, and ran alone in the home run king battle.

In the first half of the game alone, he hit 33, and Hideki Matsui's record for Japanese players in the season (31) was already set.

In the All-Star Game, he was selected for the first time in both categories of throwing and hitting, and also participated in the home run competition for the first time.

At the venue, all the major league star players asked Otani to sign and take a commemorative photo.

Otani replied calmly when asked about the momentum of the "breaking bamboo".

Shohei Ohtani

"I think that time was a time when various things were engaged. The number of hits was not increasing, and I had the impression that the hits were home runs, so the swing itself. I wonder if it was an orbit that went up at a good angle. "

What surprised me was that Otani had hardly practiced batting while he was making good progress as a batter.

By this time, it had become commonplace to continue playing games every day, and the day before and the day after throwing, he was still a designated hitter.

In the practice before each game, I was doing routine as a starting pitcher such as pitching practice with catch ball and bullpen, but batting practice on the ground was only the opening game on April 1.

He says he had some idea of ​​what he was doing differently than last year.

Shohei Ohtani

"I had to look at the second half of the season as I watched the long season, so I think it was important to decide the amount of exercise per day to some extent. Even if I move too much while the recovery time is decided to some extent. It's not very effective, so it was more important to reduce the amount of practice and not get tired as much as possible. When I'm not feeling well, I still want to swing the bat, but I want to hold myself down as much as possible and look at it in the long run. "It's time to put up with it." It was difficult for me to experience it for the first time. "

The second half of the difficult season

Otani continued to participate in the game by reducing the amount of practice to reduce the accumulation of fatigue.

However, the team's performance, which had managed to hold up with a winning percentage of 50%, declined in the latter half of the season, and the playoff participation, which is the biggest goal, went away.

Shohei Ohtani

"For the last two months, it was quite difficult to play in a situation where there was almost no playoffs. Still, there are games every day and I have to do it. Of course everyone was doing their best, but the stadium I think it will be a heavy step to come to the stadium, and the spirit at the stadium and the mound ... It's not fun unless you win. It's fun because you win as a team, and if you lose, nothing is fun, and how much you contribute to that. I'm looking forward to doing it, so it was hard for a player to have no playoff goals. "

Around this time, in terms of personal results, there was a fierce battle for the home run king with Guerrero Jr. of the Blue Jays and Perez of the Royals.

Otani was severely marked by the opponent team aiming to advance to the playoffs.

The attack of the opponent's battery is centered on the out course where home runs are hard to come out.

If there is no help for the foreball, it will be attacked at the very end of the course, and there are more scenes that are shunned in the game.

It was a frustrating situation to reach the home run king, but Otani enjoyed even this predicament.

Shohei Ohtani

"I honestly didn't really think that I could have this kind of experience in the major leagues, so it was a very fresh experience. No matter what kind of attack I made, I basically entered the strike zone. It's difficult to swing the ball. It's also the case with the racy ball, and I think it's a good experience because I think it's a better skill as a batter than a batting seat with a lot of sweet balls. "

As a pitcher, Otani was approaching one more win to achieve the "double-digit win, double-digit home run" since Babe Ruth.

However, the 27-year-old thought, which he had only seen before, was again pursuing the ideal pitching he was aiming for, rather than the one win that grabbed the record for the first time in 103 years.

Shohei Ohtani

"Of course, the winning star is important, and I think that double-digit victory is also a big thing, but there was something I wanted to try in the actual battle. The most important thing is to win the game. I didn't have to go into defense, and at least I wanted to find something good for myself and end the season. The last time I was able to finish pitching in a good way is good for next year. I think it was great in the sense that I was able to have an image. "

This is the "standard" This is the "minimum"

Needless to say, Otani's record of throwing this season is beyond common sense.

Such a player has never existed.

As early as some people said that he would win the league MVP this season, he asked Otani if ​​he had any ideal numbers, and after he was a little worried, he answered.

Shohei Ohtani

"Well, I think the numbers for this year are the worst. I personally want to make sure that I can't do what I was able to do next year, and I think that's the absolute thing for the team. Of course, I don't know when it will happen, but even if you throw it, the number you throw will be used as a reference to calculate and use it, so if you can only throw 50 or 100 innings there, as a team It will crumble. To some extent, the pressure to reach the numbers to be calculated will increase. I am worried and I am looking forward to it. "

Twenty years ago, Ichiro, who won the only MVP among Japanese players, said about Otani this season, "In order to play for a long time as a core player, it is essential to have a season that is the axis of playing with full power for one year. I think I was able to build it. "

Otani himself said that he will take on another dimension of this season as his lowest line for the coming season.

What will we see next season?

I'm looking forward to the opening from now on.

America Directorate General of

Sports reporters

Yamamoto OsamuFutoshi

2010 He joined

in the sports news section

skiing, rugby,

such as the charge of land

currently belongs from last year in August

NHK Special "Major Leaguer Shohei Otani ~ 2021 Talking about Super Evolution ~"

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NHK Special "Major Leaguer Shohei Otani ~ 2021 Talking about Super Evolution ~"

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