Baseball: Have Bat, Will Travel: Ohtani

Baseball: Have bat, will travel: Ohtani

Shohei Ohtani departed for his first spring training with the Los Angeles Angels on Thursday by saying he intends to travel light.

"I'm taking as little as possible," the hard-hitting, speedy pitcher said at Narita airport. "My passport and baseball equipment will be enough."

"I slept really well last night, although I haven't been having good dreams lately. I dreamt I was grounding out to the right fielder."

In December, the 23-year-old signed with the Angels after being posted by the Nippon Ham Fighters of Nippon Professional Baseball's Pacific League. Ohtani has both pitched and played a key role in the Fighters' lineup for five seasons.

He is now attempting to do the same in the majors, where it was only done successfully in 1918 by the Boston Red Sox's Babe Ruth. However, prior to baseball's complete racial integration, many of America's best pitchers became famous for starring at other positions in the Negro leagues.

"It was good timing to be instructed by some superb people (with Nippon Ham)," Ohtani said. "I have been extremely lucky."

"(Now), I am targeting being able to get into games. I want to make a good impression in camp so that I can be an important contributor to the team."

This will be the third straight season Ohtani will be headed to Arizona, where the Fighters opened their spring training the past two years. Angels pitchers and catchers are due to report on Feb. 14.

Despite being a former MVP, Ohtani is considered an amateur according to the rules governing international signing agreed to by Major League Baseball and its union. As an amateur, he is currently on a minor league contract and needed an invitation to attend the Angels' spring major league training camp.