Shohei Ohtani ‘very relieved’ after smashing his first home run as a Dodger with a 430-foot shot | Top Vip News

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LOS ANGELES – Shohei Ohtani had stepped up to the plate 40 times in his brief career with the Dodgers and had yet to hit a home run. He has yet to take the breath away from a stadium, only to hear it explode when a ball goes over a wall.

His swing. The snap of her bat. That sound has been heard many, many times. His home runs captivate a stadium in a way others simply cannot.

This home run drought was starting to get uncomfortably long for a slugger who homered once every 13.6 plate appearances in his MVP campaign last season.

But his 430-foot shot at Dodger Stadium on Wednesday night left no doubt. Right off the bat, it was instantly obvious that his losing streak at the start of the season had come to an end. Reliever Taylor Rogers, knowing he had just made every highlight-reel in America, could only look back helplessly toward right-center field.

The solo home run put the Dodgers up by two runs in the seventh inning against the San Francisco Giants and was the difference in the Dodgers’ 5-4 victory.

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“Honestly, I’m very relieved that I was able to hit my first home run. “It’s been a while,” Ohtani said through an interpreter. “My swing hasn’t been very good. Overall, I am very relieved.”

Ohtani said he met with the fan who caught the ball after the game. He gave up two blocks, a bat and a different ball in exchange for the home run. It was a small price to pay for the memory of his first Dodgers home run.

“It’s a very special ball, there are a lot of feelings about it,” Ohtani said. “I’m very grateful he’s back.”

That home run will not only represent his first Dodger home run, but also the stress and struggle that went into finally achieving it. After recording 171 explosions in his tenure with the Los Angeles Angels, he was beginning to feel like his inaugural opportunity with his new team would never come.

Manager Dave Roberts acknowledged the natural pressure associated with the 10-year, $700 million free agent contract the 29-year-old superstar signed before this season. Home runs were a big part of the expectations placed on her, and there could have been increasing pressure as that statistic slipped away from her.

“There’s something in human nature to want to get off to a good start with the new team and obviously with the contract,” Roberts said after Ohtani’s homer. “But I think the most important thing is that we are winning baseball games. I think that’s something that helps with the transition or the weight you may feel.”

There have been a lot of things weighing on Ohtani over the last month. The Dodgers fired his longtime friend and performer, Ippei Mizuhara, amid allegations that he stole at least $4.5 million from Ohtani to pay off gambling debts. MLB is investigating the situation, as are federal law enforcement entities.

Roberts said he hasn’t seen that impact on Ohtani. But he acknowledged that the player may have a good poker face about the situation. It’s hard to know how much correlation there is between those circumstances and Ohtani’s paltry .631 OPS entering Wednesday’s game.

“He’s basically treading water, just doing his thing,” Dodgers hitting coach Aaron Bates said. The Athletic on Monday. “We are still learning. Obviously, as the games start to count and become more (real), the hitters change a little bit from spring training into the season. But his swing looks good to me right now.”

Bates said he expects Ohtani to find more production as he becomes familiar with pitchers in the NL West. Bates also said that Ohtani’s process in the cage has remained steady, keeping track of his exit velocities as a barometer of his success. This shot came out of the gate at 105.6 miles per hour. A frozen rope that reached halfway up the right field stands.

Ohtani has always had streaks. Notably, he hit 15 home runs in June of last year. But he’s also been prone to going weeks without that kind of power. The timing of this crisis, however, began to weigh on him.

“It was getting a little longer than I expected,” Ohtani said. “During those situations, it’s easy to become anxious. Overall I felt relieved.”

This at-bat represented the last opportunity at Dodger Stadium before Los Angeles embarks on a six-game trip to Chicago and Minnesota. Instead of having his first home run in a road game without an adoring fan base, he bounced back in front of a fan base that supported him through a difficult few weeks.

The home run also came against an unlikely opponent. Rogers, a left-hander, last allowed a long ball to a fellow left-hander in May 2021. He said he got into a fastball count and threw to Ohtani the same pitch he had thrown to him the day before: a sinker up top. . and out. And the day before, Ohtani failed.

“I knew it was going to end up everywhere after he hit the bat,” Rogers said of his immediate reaction to Ohtani’s hit.

Before the game, Roberts was asked about Ohtani, as he often does. “He’s just a tick,” said the captain. “But sometimes it just takes one hit.”

The comment raises an interesting question for the slugger. The narrative of their season has been one of an uncomfortable struggle. In one fell swoop, he changed it. At least temporarily. So now that he has his first time, what’s next?

Because when it comes to Ohtani, one home run often means someone else isn’t far behind.

Fabián Ardaya and Andrew Baggarly contributed to this report.

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(Photo: Gary A. Vásquez / USA Today)

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