Shohei Ohtani press conference, part 2

1 year and 11 days after announcing he would leave for the majors, Shohei Ohtani is back.

 

Part 2 of Shohei Ohtani’s press conference on Nov. 22, 2018 at the Japan National Press Club in Tokyo.

–What adjustments to the different style of American baseball gave you trouble?

“Regardless of whatever differences there are, and this is the same for the difference between individuals and the overall differences between Japan and the United States, you don’t know what they are until you see for yourself. As soon as I went, I found everything was different. I felt the baseball and that includes the culture was different. It wasn’t just the power, but the technique as well, the speed, too, is different. Overall, I felt the level was higher.”

(米国野球に適応に苦労したところ)
どのくらい差があるのかということにかんしては個人の差もそうだし、日本と米国の全体的な差もそうですが、行ってみないとわからないところだったので。行った直後は全てがちがう、野球自体が文化も含めてちがうと感じたし、パワーだけじゃなく技術もそうだし、スピードもそうだし、レベルが総合的に高いなと感じた。

–How is your rehab going?

“So far so good. My current training menu has cardio, including running. I’m at the stage where I can do most of my lower body and core training. I can do most anything that doesn’t put a heavy load on my right arm. I’m doing light resistance training with my right arm. All the time, I’m bending and extending the arm and I want to keep doing that. After, I will progress toward being able to play in real games in rehab periods lasting one or two weeks at a time as my condition gets bettter. Now I just want to progress in good form toward the next step.”

(現在のリハビリ)
順調にきている。いまのメニューとしてはランニングも含めた有酸素系のトレーニングと、下半身のトレもできる。体幹のトレもできる。重荷は右腕を使わないトレーニングはほとんどできる状態。右腕も軽い負荷のかかった抵抗運動とかていうのはできる状態。継続的に行っているのは屈曲伸展の運動じゃないかと思う、そこは継続しちゃっていきたい。あとは実戦に向けては1、2週間単位のリハビリの進行具合で変わってくるので、いまは次のステップに順調に進めるようにやっていきたいというところ。



–What is the attraction of the major leagues?

“Of course, the level is extremely high. On top of that it another thing that’s interesting is how players from different countries come together. I’ve watched since I was little, but being able to stand on the field, to play, there are so many other sensations. I think my job is to play so people can somehow get a sense of all of that — even through the medium of television. Because the sensation you get when actually stepping onto the field is when it really hits you.”

“It’s the same for kids now. Like me, if they try harder they’ll want to achieve a higher level and with that I think they can realize what it’s like to be on this same stage with me.”

(メジャーの魅力、おすすめ)
レベルもすごい高いのももちろんそうだし、国の違う選手がいっぱい集まってプレーしていることに関してもちがった面白さはある。僕もちいさころからテレビで見ていたけど、じっさいにグランドに立ってプレーしているともっと感じることが多いので。何とかテレビ越しだけど、それをプレーも含めて面白さを伝えられるうようにぼくもがんばるのが仕事かなと思う。実際にグラウンドに立った方のが面白さを感じるのは一番実感できると思うので。今の子どもたちには同じ舞台でというか。僕ももっとがばってよりたかいところにいきたいと思うし、同じ舞台で一緒に実感できればと思う

–What were your feelings when you learned you had been named rookie of the year?

“Honestly, on top of being happy, I heard it all in real time as part of the broadcast, so I wasn’t aware I’d won, and didn’t know who had won, so I’m grateful to all the journalists and to the fans who supported me all year.

“A lot of rookies in the same league put up some outstanding numbers. I’m happy to have won. Although the other players did not get the same respect, I was simply happy to be among them as one of the three finalists. I’m glad I could play at that kind of level over the course of the season.

(新人王と聞いたときの実感)
率直にうれしかったのもそうだし、中継でつながっていのでリアルタイムで聴くことができたけど、自分が受賞するかは分からない状態だったので、誰が受賞する状態かわからなかったので、投票してくれた記者の皆さんや1年間応援してくれたファンんのみなさんだったり感謝するところはたくさんある。同じリーグで1年間プレーした新人としてすばらしい成績残した選手はたくさんいるが、自分が受賞してうしてうれしいのもあるし、それと同じくらいリスペクトじゃないですけど、そういう選手に対して、最終的な3人に選んでいただいただけでもぼくもすごくうれしかった。それくらいレベルの高いところで1年間できててよかった。

–Having played five years in Japan, did you feel you had to be rookie of the year?

“If I didn’t go and try I wouldn’t know if I myself had the necessary talent. Of course, I had confidence from playing five years in Japan, and out of regard for the level of Japanese pro baseball, I did kind of want to win it. But once I got there and could see how high the level of competition  was, it no longer mattered why I came, because I felt I was in a make-or-break situation. Of course, in the end, receiving the award made a lot of people happy, so I’m glad of that.”

(新人王の位置付け、日本でも実績がある中だったが)
個人的にとれる技量があるかはいってみないとわからなかった。もちろん日本で5年間やってきたという自信もあったし、日本のプロ野球のレベルに対して、とりたいなという気持ちもあったけど、実際にいってみるとすごいレベルもたかかったし、どこでなにやってきたかは関係なく勝負するところなのかなと感じた。最終的にとれていろんな方に喜んでいただいて良かったと思う。

–How did you change over the course of one year, what helped you get by?

“I didn’t really have a feel for anything that went on that didn’t have to do with baseball, so I can’t really answer. Thanks to my interpreter Ippei (Mizuhara), who was with me the entire year, I was able to get by. He helped me at the park, on the field and — including my private life — is some one who really provided the greatest assistance.

(1年で自分の変化を感じること、支えになったことは)
自分で実際に実感するところは野球以外では正直なかなかないので、それは分からない。イッペイさんはお世話になったのは通訳として1年一緒にやってきましたし、グラウンドのレベルで同じフィールドの上でやってきたので、私生活も含めて本当にお世話になりました。

–How’s your English coming along?

“Basically, it’s not. I really don’t understand.”

(英語上達)
ほぼないと思います。分からないです。

–Will you try to give your rookie of the year acceptance speech in English?  Can you give us just a little in English?

No.



–What is the attraction of the major leagues?

“Of course, the level is extremely high. On top of that it another thing that’s interesting is how players from different countries come together. I’ve watched since I was little, but being able to stand on the field, to play, there are so many other sensations. I think my job is to play so people can somehow get a sense of all of that — even through the medium of television. Because the sensation you get when actually stepping onto the field is when it really hits you.”

“It’s the same for kids now. Like me, if they try harder they’ll want to achieve a higher level and with that I think they can realize it’s like to be on this same stage with me.”

(メジャーの魅力、おすすめ)
レベルもすごい高いのももちろんそうだし、国の違う選手がいっぱい集まってプレーしていることに関してもちがった面白さはある。僕もちいさころからテレビで見ていたけど、じっさいにグランドに立ってプレーしているともっと感じることが多いので。何とかテレビ越しだけど、それをプレーも含めて面白さを伝えられるうようにぼくもがんばるのが仕事かなと思う。実際にグラウンドに立った方のが面白さを感じるのは一番実感できると思うので。今の子どもたちには同じ舞台でというか。僕ももっとがばってよりたかいところにいきたいと思うし、同じ舞台で一緒に実感できればと思う。

–What was your impression of getting the silent treatment after your first home run?

“At first I didn’t understand what happened, so I thought maybe they disliked me. I’m glad it wasn’t that.”

(サイレントトリートメント)
最初はわからなかったので、ちょっと嫌われているのかなと。嫌われていなくなくてよかった。

–You had a Grade 1 elbow sprain last year, a Grade 3 sprain this year. What’s the cause?

“If I knew that cause, that would really be great, but because it’s not just one thing and more complicated than that I believe. Of course, an issue for me since I began playing baseball has been about finding a smoother form, and more efficient mechanics. That’s something all pitchers have in common. Throwing harder than someone else means a heavier burden. That’s just the way it is. The first thing is to have an efficient delivery. I think that what I can do now is make things go smoothly following the operation so that I can be in perfect condition (when I return).”

(3度の右肘治療&手術繰り返した経緯について、要因)
原因がこれだというのが分かれば一番楽だけど、その要因が一つではないので、より難しくはなっているのかなと思う。もちろんフォームをより良くスムーズに効率よく投げられるところに持って行くのは、野球を始めてから今まで持っている課題。投手なら誰でもやるべきことの一つ。人より速いボールが投げられる点に対してはより負荷がかかるのは仕方がないこと。それを含めて効率よく投げていけるところを見つけるのは最初の段階。いまできることは術後の経過をスムーズに万全な状態でもっていくことと思っている。



–Your nickname this year was “Shotime.” Do you have a nickname you’d like to use next season?

“No.”

(ショータイム。来季のニックネームの希望は)
ないです。

–What is your status on the team? How is your character in the clubhouse?

“I’m one of the younger players, and to that extent people don’t mess around with me that much. Actually I’m the one who jokes around more, so that is not any different from when I was in Japan.”

(チーム内での自分の立ち位置、キャラは)
年齢的には下の方なので、そこまですごくいじられることもないし、立ち位置的にはちょっと分からないところなのかなと思ってはいる。僕の方から冗談言うこともあるので、そこは日本ととくに変わったりすることはないかなと。

–What did you think of the Ohtani craze in America?

“During the season, we’re on the road a lot, and baseball is pretty much an everyday occupation, so I didn’t really have a sense for what it was like outside the ballpark. Compared to my time in Japan, my life in America is pretty subdued.”

(Editors note: More subdued than living in the dorm and only venturing out to go to the convenience store on the corner or the ballpark?  Oh my…)

(米国での自身へのへの熱狂ぶりについて)
シーズン中は本当に遠征も多かったし、野球の毎日だったので、あまりグラウンド外でそういうのを感じることもなかった。日本よりもどちらかというと地味な生活を送っていたと思う。

–What’s the difference between baseball in America and Japan?

“The biggest thing is technique. Of course one look and you can tell the difference in physiques, but over there technique has progressed more than I expected. People have learned to do so many things that are well beyond what I imagined. In response to that, I realized I had to change so many things. But that realization took time because I had been intent on playing my game my way and I was really conflicted.

–Could you please explain your own conflict over your batting form?

“Regarding my batting form, I tried various things during the preseason exhibitions, but as much as possible I wanted to maintain the same batting style I’d used in Japan throughout the season. But not only was I not getting results, but the quality of the at-bats was an issue, too, and I couldn’t sense that I had a handle on things. So in that context, the small adjustments I tried out got me going in the right direction. And after that, I think, little by little things fell into place.”

–Would you like to play in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics?

“I don’t have any feeling about the Olympics in general. Of course, I am really interested this time since Japan is the host and baseball has been selected as a sport. I think it’s fairly normal to want to play in the Olympics.”

–What impression did you get when you joined the Angels?

“My first impression when I joined the club was that all my teammates were amazingly good people, and I felt that they looked out for me and would come up and talk to me.”

“Throughout the year, that impression never wavered. I had indeed joined a great team, and I was glad I was able to play baseball with them. That touched me, and I never would have felt that if I hadn’t gone for myself to see what baseball was like over there.”

“The team was loaded with star players, and they all had some influence on me, but if I have to name one person it would be Mike Trout. Among baseball’s best he is at the top, and that goes not only for his skill but also his character. He is something special.”



Jim Allen

sports editor for a wire service in Tokyo

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