Yesterday the Dodgers faced the Angels for the first time in spring training. Shohei Ohtani was in the lineup. Given that the Dodgers were one of the teams which courted Ohtani in free agency — and given that the front office had scouted him for years prior to that — the matchup drew considerable interest.
Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times wrote a story yesterday about the Dodgers’ unsuccessful pursuit of Ohtani and, suffice it to say, the players involved in the pitch were not particularly impressed with the guy.
Justin Turner and Clayton Kershaw were each called to Los Angeles for the Dodgers’ face-to-face meeting with Ohtani and each were displeased with the experience. Turner called it “a waste of time,” and Kershaw raised by calling it “a gigantic waste of time.” Their beef? In their view, Ohtani seemed to already have decided that he did not want to play for a National League team because he wanted to DH, not play the field. They said he seemed to be on another planet during the meeting, not engaging with them. “He might as well have not been sitting there,” Turner said. “We might as well have been speaking to a window.”
Kershaw made it clear that his real displeasure was not with Ohtani, but rather with his agent, Nez Balelo. Dave Roberts and Andrew Friedman said that they didn’t have a problem with it and Roberts countered Turner’s impression about Ohtani being disengaged, but it’s possible they were being more diplomatic.
Not that Kershaw is losing much sleep over any of it. Yesterday he was on the mound and faced Ohtani. As he has done to so many other hitters over the years, he made Ohtani look bad:
After the game Kershaw was asked about Ohtani and that at bat. His response: “it’s a curveball, you know . . . I could care less now. He didn’t pick us, so, you know, good luck to him.”