Dodgers Manager Dave Roberts Working with Shohei Ohtani on Strike Zone Discipline

AP Photo/Alex Brandon
Los Angeles Dodgers’ Shohei Ohtani throws before a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park, Tuesday, April 23, 2024, in Washington.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Dave Roberts thinks Shohei Ohtani can be even better with more plate discipline with runners in scoring position.

The Los Angeles Dodgers manager approached the two-time AL MVP about a week ago to discuss how Ohtani could better control the strike zone.

“I thought he was expanding a little bit more than he needed to,” Roberts said Tuesday. “So, I just wanted to have a conversation with him.”

Ohtani hit his 176th home run on Sunday, surpassing Hideki Matsui for the most in Major League Baseball among players born in Japan. Ohtani entered Tuesday night’s game in Washington leading the major leagues in batting average (.368), hits (35), doubles (11) and total bases (63).

“Any time he swings the bat he can change the game, and now being even more disciplined in the strike zone just makes him more scary,” Roberts said.

Ohtani left the Los Angeles Angels and joined the Dodgers in December for a record $700 million, 10-year contract. The two-way star had elbow surgery last September and won’t pitch this season.

Roberts has noticed Ohtani getting comfortable in his surroundings, acclimating with his new teammates and coaches.

“He is doing a great job with everyone,” Roberts said. “The hitting coaches are kind of building a really good relationship and trust. I see him more (now). Before you sort of just see him when he gets in the batter’s box. So, he’s around a lot more, which is good thing too.”