SCOTTSDALE, ARIZONA – Shohei Ohtani took a break from his rehabilitation program on Saturday to visit his former Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters teammates in Arizona.
The slugging Los Angeles Angels pitcher and American League rookie of the year is entering his second major league season since the Fighters allowed him to move to the major leagues in the winter of 2017-18.
Ohtani impressed former teammate Naoyuki Uwasawa by showing up in a T-shirt on a cold, cloudy day at the Fighters’ spring training camp.
“I think he’s been Americanized,” said Uwasawa, who got a good look at the scars on Ohtani’s right elbow from ligament reconstruction surgery in October.
Because of the surgery, Ohtani will not be fit to pitch until at least 2020, causing Fighters manager Hideki Kuriyama to comment that his former apprentice will be breaking new ground this season.
“The one thing he was unable to do with us was to just pitch for a year, or just hit,” Kuriyama said.
The Fighters skipper has been credited as the person who came up with the idea of making Ohtani a two-way player.