Movie star Ken Watanabe offered a message of encouragement to compatriot Shohei Ohtani when he threw out the ceremonial first pitch before the Los Angeles Dodgers faced Ohtani's Los Angeles Angels on Wednesday.

Watanabe, nominated for an Academy Award for his work in the "The Last Samurai," was a guest of honor at the Dodgers' "Japanese Heritage Night."

"I have sympathy for him (Ohtani) as one who is continuing to challenge the unknown," the 62-year-old actor said. "I am looking forward to the results and success he can produce this year if he can avoid injury."

Fans at Dodger Stadium were treated to Japanese entertainment and an exhibition celebrating the legacy of Japanese-American baseball.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, who was born in Japan, said the club had been at the forefront of cultivating international friendship through baseball.

"I am very proud of my Japanese heritage and honored to be managing a team with such a rich and pioneering history," Roberts said in a release promoting the event.

This year is also being touted as the 150th anniversary of the year American educator Horace Wilson began teaching the game to his students in Japan.

"Baseball is an American national sport, and this confirms my feeling that this country is accepting Japan as part of it," Watanabe said.