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Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani says he is married

ASSOCIATED PRESS
                                Los Angeles Dodgers designated hitter Shohei Ohtani smiles in the dugout before a spring training baseball game against the Texas Rangers, Wednesday, in Surprise, Ariz.
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ASSOCIATED PRESS

Los Angeles Dodgers designated hitter Shohei Ohtani smiles in the dugout before a spring training baseball game against the Texas Rangers, Wednesday, in Surprise, Ariz.

GLENDALE, Ariz. >> Shohei Ohtani stunned the Los Angeles Dodgers — and many around the world — with his marriage announcement on Thursday, so manager Dave Roberts said any gift the team gives the two-time MVP would be like most of the money in his contract: deferred.

“I’m very happy for him and his bride,” Roberts said, smiling. “As far as wedding gifts, we got surprised and didn’t have much time to think about it. I’m sure it’s en route.”

Ohtani, the two-way Japanese star, revealed on Instagram early Thursday that he was married. Much of the relationship remains shroudded in mystery.

“She is a Japanese woman,” Ohtani said through an interpreter. “I don’t really feel comfortable talking about when I got married exactly, but she’s a normal Japanese woman.”

Ohtani only gave a few more tidbits about the relationship during a short interview on Thursday, saying he had known his new bride for three or four years.

The 29-year-old Ohtani is Japan’s biggest celebrity. There has been curiosity about his personal life, which he has always kept private. His focus and his image has always been 100%-baseball focused and free of scandals and tabloid news.

“I felt like it was good timing because it was before the season,” Ohtani said. “I didn’t really want any distractions once the season started. I would have liked to announce it earlier, but there were some paperwork issues that (delayed) the whole process.”

Ohtani moved from the Los Angeles Angels to the Dodgers in December on a record $700 million, 10-year contract that calls for $680 million to be paid from 2034-43.

Ohtani said his marriage didn’t affect how he treated free agency.

“She has a great understanding of my profession, and she’s willing to be wherever I wanted to play and ultimately it was my decision,” Ohtani said.

The post on Instagram included a photo of his dog “Dekopin,” whom Ohtani also calls “Decoy.”

He wrote: “We hope the two of us — and one animal — will work together.”

The news broke in the middle of the night in North America and late afternoon in Japan where it was immediately the top news item.

Japanese television reports daily on his training in the United States and, because of his unprecedented success in North America, he has become the pride of Japan. The Dodgers have become Japan’s de facto team.

Ohtani is training with the Dodgers as they prepare to open in Seoul, South Korea, on March 20-21 in a two-game series against the San Diego Padres.

Ohtani junderwent surgery on his right elbow last September and will not pitch this season. He will be used as a designated hitter and there is a possibility he could play in the field.

In his spring training debut this week, he hit a two-run home run against the Chicago White Sox.

Ohtani has hit 171 home runs, including 44 last season, and has a .274 career batting average along with a 38-19 pitching record in five seasons. He missed the 2019 season due to elbow surgery and has a 3.01 career ERA.

He was the 2018 AL Rookie of the Year and the 2021 and ‘23 AL MVP in 2021, often compared to Babe Ruth for his skill as a two-way player.

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