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Shohei Ohtani’s hard-hit home run adds to torrid start in 1st season with Dodgers

Associated Press

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

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 win left his bat at 118.7 mph.

“I thought I hit it really good,” Ohtani said Wednesday through his interpreter, Will Ireton. “I felt really good 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 might have drawn more attention than most of Ohtani’s homers, but his typical contact stands out to Dodgers manager Dave Roberts.

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

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

“What he’s doing right now, I can’t say it’s never been done, but just the controlling of the strike zone, covering all the pitches, hitting to all the fields, versus left, versus right — and I get the best seat in the house every night,” Roberts said. “I have a tendency to put my fan hat on at times.”

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

It will be Ohtani’s first trip to the city since meeting with Blue Jays officials when he was a free agent during the offseason. Before he signed with the Dodgers, there were false reports about him being 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.”



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