Amid the mania, shohei ohtani, like mike trout, tries to limit the distractions bleacher report latest news, videos and highlights

And while American baseball fans have devoured every Ohtani highlight in sight, the spotlight is even brighter in Japan, where many of the news broadcasts lead with the exploits of their country’s biggest sporting star. Nearly 120 Japanese reporters flooded to Oakland and Anaheim to watch Ohtani’s first two pitching starts, and nearly 30 followed him to Kansas City, asking manager Mike Scioscia and pitching coach Charles Nagy about everything from his splitter usage to the tape on his fingertip, hoping for any news bite they can relay back to Japan. One reporter busy refilling a soda in the press box nearly tripped over himself sprinting back to his seat when he realized Ohtani was at the plate, spilling soda and ice all over the carpet in the process.


“There’s a lot of pictures being taken, a lot of media everywhere,” says Angels second baseman Ian Kinsler, who experienced similar media coverage in Texas with Yu Darvish’s arrival in 2012. “It really hasn’t mattered what city we’ve been in, there’s always going to be a surplus of media here to watch. There’s nothing different for me. I’ve just got to answer a couple more questions here or there.”

The questions being asked of Ohtani are managed carefully. He doesn’t speak before games, and there are no one-on-one interviews. He meets with the media only after games in which he appears. And when he does, there are generally no pleasantries exchanged. He speaks while standing up, his hands behind his back, hand in hand, posture pristine. The Japanese media knows little about his personal life, which differs from the media buzz around Darvish and Daisuke Matsuzaka, both of whom had married Japanese celebrities. Saeko, an actress, was Darvish’s wife. Matsuzaka’s wife is TV journalist Tomoyo Shibata.

While the hype surrounding Ohtani feels similar to the hysteria that surrounded the arrivals of Matsuzaka and then Darvish, there’s a striking calm to his presence. During the Angels’ four days in Kansas City, Ohtani arrives to the stadium in the same outfit each time: a dark blue denim shirt with a wide collar, slim black dress pants and black shoes. He has no entourage, and his parents have been following him in the early part of the season. This is the same guy who, despite making millions of dollars in Japan, lived in the team dormitory for his five years with the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters, never bought a car or had a driver’s license and had his mother handle his money, receiving a reported $1,000 from his parents every month.

Quelling the hype around his arrival in the United States appears to have been a strategy from the beginning. According to multiple sources, one of the factors that attracted Ohtani to the Angels was the demeanor of Mike Trout, the team’s biggest star. Ohtani related to the center fielder’s lack of interest in being a mainstream star beyond baseball. Trout’s all-baseball, only-baseball mentality resonated with him.

What isn’t holding back is the hype that will continue to follow Ohtani from city to city, where he will be the main attraction for the foreseeable future. Like it or not, he’ll be seen as the guy from Japan who is trying to do what only Babe Ruth did in the major leagues: succeed as a pitcher and hitter.

Everyone is taking notice. After it was announced that Sunday’s game was postponed because of frigid weather, Ohtani met with the media outside the Angels clubhouse. As he spoke, an elderly Japanese woman in Royals garb emerged from the home plate luxury club, which is in the same hallway as the clubhouse. When she noticed Ohtani, peeking out of the top of the crowd, her eyes widened as if she’d seen a ghost.

The woman continued to walk, one inch per step, staring at Ohtani as the guard implored her to exit the hallway, her husband nudging her from behind. Finally, she reached the stairs before stopping to turn around, staring through the door to get one last glimpse of the man at the center of the mania.