• Baseball

Shohei Ohtani greeted with ‘Welcome to Seattle’ Chants

Stephen Brashear-USA TODAY Sports
Jul 11, 2023; Seattle, Washington, USA; American League designated hitter/pitcher Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim (17) reacts during the second inning at T-Mobile Park.

SEATTLE — Shohei Ohtani failed to put a ball in play during Tuesday night’s All-Star Game, but his experience was memorable nonetheless.

The Los Angeles Angels’ pending free agent was greeted to a chorus of “welcome to Seattle” chants when he stepped into the box as the second hitter of the night for the American League.

“Never experienced anything like that, but I definitely heard it,” he said.”But I was trying to focus on my at-bat.”

Ohtani struck out against National League starter Zac Gallen, but that didn’t prevent the crowd at T-Mobile Park from rekindling the chants in Ohtani’s second at-bat. He walked before being replaced by Kansas City’s Salvador Perez.

“Every time I come here the fans are passionate, they’re really into the game,” Ohtani said. “So, it’s very impressive. I actually spent a couple offseasons in Seattle. So I like the city. It’s beautiful.”

Ohtani, 29, has 32 home runs and 71 RBIs in 89 games this season. The two-way star is also 7-4 with a 3.32 ERA in 17 starts.

Whether the Angels will consider moving Ohtani before the trade deadline is subject of much debate. Los Angeles entered the All-Star break 45-46 and seven games behind Texas in the AL West. The Angels are also five games behind the final wild-card spot in the league.

Ohtani admitted on Tuesday that reaching the playoffs takes on a higher priority each year.

“Those feelings get stronger year by year,” Ohtani said through his interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara. “It sucks to lose. (I want) to win, so it gets stronger every year.”