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Ohtani bows to Ichiro on away game in Seattle

Posted April. 05, 2023 07:52,   

Updated April. 05, 2023 07:52


Shohei Ohtani, the star of the Los Angeles Angels, was warming up in the left side of the outfield before he spotted someone and zoomed across the field to greet him with a respectful bow before his game against the Seattle Mariners at T-Mobile Park in Seattle on Tuesday. That someone was Ichiro Suzuki, the now-retired MLB legend and the icon of Japanese baseball.

Suzuki, now a special assistant to the Mariners chairman and a hitting instructor, often comes out in uniform to watch the team’s home games, and Ohtani makes it a rule to greet him in person whenever he visits Seattle. The two first met during the 2018 spring training season when Ohtani prepared for his MLB debut.

Their meeting was of particular interest to American media due to their shared success in the World Baseball Classic (WBC), which ended last month with Japan as the champion. Ohtani, who played both as a pitcher and batter, led his team to the championship and was named MVP of the tournament. Suzuki, who played in the inaugural 2006 and 2009 tournaments, also led Japan to both championships as the team’s leader and central batter. He also hit the winning run in the final against South Korea in 2009. MLB.com dubbed their encounter as “a meeting of WBC championships.”

In the following game, Ohtani continued his impressive hitting streak by blasting a deciding home run in the fifth inning with a 131-meter shot off Mariners starter George Kirby, giving the Angels a 3-2 lead. This was his second consecutive game with a home run following his performance against the Oakland Athletics on Monday. The Angels won the game 7-3, extending their winning streak to three games with one loss. Ohtani is set to pitch against the Mariners on Thursday.

Meanwhile, the San Diego Padres’ Kim Ha-seong hit his first career walk-off home run in the ninth inning of the game against the Arizona Diamondbacks on the same day. The Padres were down 5-4 until pinch-hitter David Dahl hit a tying home run, followed by Kim’s game-winning blast. Kim’s season batting average is now 0.385 (5 hits, 15 at-bats).

Heon-Jae Lee uni@donga.com