Shohei Ohtani enjoyed his experience as the American League's starting designated hitter in the 93rd MLB All-Star Game on Tuesday, July 11.
Appearing in his third consecutive All-Star Game, the fan favorite said each Midsummer Classic has been a different experience for him.
"It's definitely refreshing every time," the Los Angeles Angels superstar told reporters at T-Mobile Park in Seattle. "[I was] not as nervous as my first time. It gets less nervous every time I make the All-Star team. But it's definitely fun and refreshing."
The National League defeated the American League 3-2. Elias Diaz (Colorado Rockies) belted a game-winning, two-run home run off Felix Bautista (Baltimore Orioles) in the top of the eighth inning. As a result, the NL halted a nine-game losing streak in the All-Star Game.
Batting second in the AL lineup, Ohtani whiffed on National League starter Zac Gallen's 3-2 knuckle curve in the first inning. The slugger from Iwate Prefecture took a big swing and said later he was aiming to hit a home run.
In his only other plate appearance, Ohtani walked to lead off the fourth inning. After tossing a knuckle curve with his first pitch, which Ohtani hit foul, Alex Cobb (San Franciso Giants) then served up an alternating mix of split-finger fastballs and sinkers. Ohtani advanced to second on a wild pitch and moved to third on a flyout. He was stranded at third, however, with the score tied 1-1.
Ohtani Impressed By Passion of Mariners Fans
Ohtani, the subject of intense speculation regarding his future plans, complimented Seattle's fans.
"Every time I come here the fans are passionate, they're really into the game," said Ohtani, who leads MLB with 32 home runs. "So it's very impressive. I actually spent a couple off-seasons in Seattle. So I like the city. It's beautiful."
Will the Mariners shell out massive dollars (an estimated $500 million USD, or ¥69.8 billion JPY, for a long-term deal after the 2023 season) to sign Ohtani to a blockbuster free-agent contract?
Time will tell. But Mariners fans didn't conceal their desire for him to join the club. During Ohtani's two at-bats on Tuesday, chants of "Come to Seattle" were heard throughout the ballpark.
Ohtani addressed the issue of the fans' chants in an interview session with reporters.
"Never experienced anything like that, but I definitely heard it," Ohtani said. "But I was trying to focus on my at-bat."
Asked about his mindset during his two at-bats, Ohtani responded by telling reporters that "I definitely want to be aggressive and swing the bat. And both of them, both at-bats, went to full count, and I was ready to swing the bat."
New York Mets starter Kodai Senga, who's in his first MLB season after 11 years with the Fukuoka SoftBank Hawks, was named to the NL All-Star roster. But he was not one of the nine NL pitchers to appear in Tuesday's game.
Author: Ed Odeven