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Newlywed Shohei Ohtani Speaks About His Marriage at Spring Training

MLB superstar Shohei Ohtani said he wanted to reveal his marriage now because "I didn't really want any distractions once the season started."

A day after making his spring training debut with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Shohei Ohtani announced on Instagram on Wednesday, February 28 (early Thursday JST) that he had gotten married.

It was Major League Baseball's biggest news of the day on both sides of the Pacific Ocean.

Ohtani shared more details on his marriage to a Japanese woman on Thursday in an interview with reporters at the Dodgers' spring training complex, Camelback Ranch, in Glendale, Arizona. He didn't, however, reveal his wife's name as he seeks to maintain some privacy in his personal life.

The couple met three or four years ago and became engaged in 2023, Ohtani told reporters.

"She is a Japanese woman," Ohtani was quoted as saying through an interpreter, according to The Associated Press. "I don't really feel comfortable talking about when I got married exactly, but she's a normal Japanese woman."

Shohei Ohtani
An extra edition of Iwate Nippo, featuring the news of Shohei Ohtani's wedding announcement, is seen on February 29 in Morioka, Iwate Prefecture. (KYODO)

Why Now?

Why did Ohtani make this headline-grabbing announcement during spring training? 

"I felt like it was good timing because it was before the season," Ohtani said, according to The Associated Press.

He added, "I didn't really want any distractions once the season started."

Then the two-time American League MVP, who signed a 10-year contract worth a record $700 million USD, or about ¥100 billion JPY, with the Dodgers in December 2023 said, "I would have liked to announce it earlier, but there were some paperwork issues that [delayed] the whole process."

Shohei Ohtani Talks About Becoming Married

In his Instagram post, which went viral on social media, Ohtani talked about his new life.

"Not only have I begun a new chapter in my career with the Dodgers but I also have [begun] a new life with someone from my native country of Japan who is very special to me and I wanted everyone to know I am now married," Ohtani posted in a message that was also written in Japanese.

In a play on words referencing his offseason status as baseball's most sought-after free agent, MLB.com provided detailed coverage of the marriage of Japan's most famous celebrity under this catchy headline: "Ohtani has been taken off the market … again!"

At his Thursday press conference, Ohtani described his new bride as a supportive companion.

"She has a great understanding of my profession," Ohtani said, according to multiple media reports. 

He continued by saying, "She respected my decision … and offered to come with me wherever I go. So, where I want to play baseball was my top priority," Kyodo News reported.

Shohei Ohtani
Shohei Ohtani makes his Dodgers debut in a spring training game on February 27. (©SANKEI)

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A Dynamic Start for the New Dodger

Batting second as the team's starting designated hitter, Ohtani belted a two-run home run in the fifth inning of the Dodgers' spring training opener on Tuesday against the Chicago White Sox. The hosts defeated Chicago 9-6.

Ohtani's club is set to open its 2024 MLB season against the San Diego Padres on March 20-21 in Seoul.

In 2023, Ohtani led the American League with 44 home runs. He played for the Los Angeles Angels from 2018-23. 

As MLB's first true two-way star since Babe Ruth, Ohtani has made his mark as a pitcher and slugger. He's been beset by injuries as a pitcher, undergoing elbow surgery twice. And he is expected to start pitching again in 2025.

As the MVP of the 2023 World Baseball Classic for title-winning Samurai Japan, Ohtani's fame skyrocketed to another level. He struck out then-Angels teammate Mike Trout for the final out to clinch the title.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts (KYODO)

Now as preparations for the new MLB season are underway, Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, who was born in Naha, Okinawa Prefecture, was as surprised by Ohtani's marriage announcement as anyone.

"I'm very happy for him and his bride," Roberts said, according to The Associated Press. "As far as wedding gifts, we got surprised and didn't have much time to think about it. I'm sure it's en route."

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Author: Ed Odeven

Find Ed on JAPAN Forward's dedicated website, SportsLook. Follow his [Japan Sports Notebook] on Sundays, [Odds and Evens] during the week, and X (formerly Twitter) @ed_odeven.

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