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#pounditTuesday, June 6, 2023

Shohei Ohtani had great message for Japan during pregame speech

Shohei Ohtani helped lead Japan to a win in the World Baseball Classic final on Tuesday night, and the two-way star had a great message for his team before the big game.

Ohtani gave his teammates a speech in which he essentially told them not to be star-struck by Team USA, which had a roster comprised of some of the best baseball players in the world. According to a translation, Ohtani told Japanese players to “stop admiring” Team USA because that is the only way to “surpass them.”

The message seemed to hit home. Japan defeated the U.S. 3-2 and became just the second team in World Baseball Classic history to not lose a game in the tournament, going a perfect 8-0.

Japan jumped out to a 3-1 lead, which narrowed to 3-2 after Yu Darvish allowed a solo home run to Kyle Schwarber in the 8th. Ohtani then came on to pitch for Japan in the 9th. He allowed a leadoff walk to Jeff McNeil before getting Mookie Betts to ground into a double play. That brought up Mike Trout for a dream matchup, and Ohtani got the best of his Los Angeles Angels teammate (video here).

Ohtani further cemented himself as the best player in the world by closing out the win and going 1-for-3 with a walk. He hit .435 with a .606 on-base percentage and .739 slugging percentage in the tournament. His speech showed that he was also a great leader throughout the WBC.

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