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Shohei Ohtani’s hard-hit home run contributes to torrid start in first season with Dodgers

AP Photo/Alex Brandon
Los Angeles Dodgers’ Shohei Ohtani speaks to reporters before a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park, Wednesday, April 24, 2024, in Washington.

WASHINGTON (AP) — Shohei Ohtani’s 450-foot home run at Nationals Park was the biggest blow of his career Tuesday night.

The Los Angeles Dodgers star’s ninth-inning shot to the second deck in right field off Washington Nationals reliever Matt Barnes in the Dodgers’ 4-1 victory left his bat at 122.7 mph.

“I thought I did a really good job,” Ohtani said Wednesday through his interpreter Will Ireton. “I had a very good feeling about it. Probably the best.”

It is the hardest-hit home run by a Dodger in the Statcast era, which began in 2015. The designated hitter leads the majors in batting average (.364), slugging percentage (.677) and OPS (1.107). He now has six home runs in his first 25 games with Los Angeles since signing a 10-year, $700 million contract.

Tuesday’s shot may have drawn more attention than most of Ohtani’s home runs, but his signature contact stands out to Dodgers manager Dave Roberts.

“With Shohei, it’s not just about the slug, it’s about how hard he consistently hits the baseball,” Roberts said. “I can’t imagine a player hitting it so often and so hard. That’s what’s remarkable to me. Even in years past, I’ve seen him get some infield hits, but everything he hits seems like it’s 110 off the bat.”

Roberts said Ohtani was “in a league of his own” because of his ability to defend the offensive zone from top to bottom and front to back while also slugging at a high rate.

“What he’s doing now, I can’t say it’s never been done before, but just controlling the strike zone, covering all fields, hitting to all fields, versus left, versus right – and I get the best spot in the house every night,” Roberts said. “I sometimes have the urge to put on my fan hat.”

Washington is the first stop in a three-city road trip to Los Angeles, which visits Toronto for a three-game series starting Friday.

It will be Ohtani’s first visit to the city since meeting with Blue Jays officials when he was a free agent this offseason. Before he signed with the Dodgers, there were false reports that he was on a flight to Toronto.

“I was just following the news and I knew I wasn’t on that flight,” Ohtani said. “So I was curious too.”

AP Photo/Alex Brandon
Los Angeles Dodgers designated hitter Shohei Ohtani celebrates as he runs the bases for his solo home run during the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park, Tuesday, April 23, 2024, in Washington. The Dodgers won 4-1.


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