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Where EAST meets the Northwest

TWO-WAY STAR. Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels throws during spring training baseball practice in Tempe, Arizona. During the offseason, the two-way star says he got his California driver license. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

From The Asian Reporter, V30, #04 (March 2, 2020), page 10.

Hit the road: Shohei Ohtani got driver license in offseason

By Greg Beacham

The Associated Press

TEMPE, Ariz. ó Shohei Ohtani doesnít just drive the ball anymore.

The Los Angeles Angelsí two-way star says he got his California driver license in the offseason, putting the 25-year-old behind the wheel of a car for the first time.

"Iím enjoying it," Ohtani said through his interpreter after rolling up to the Angelsí spring training complex in his Tesla. "I was able to pass it the first time, so not too much stress."

Ohtani never got a license in his native Japan because the process is longer and more expensive, and he didnít need to drive himself anywhere in Sapporo thanks to public transportation and his team. Since he joined the Angels in 2018 and moved to car-centric Southern California, he had been driven around by other people.

Ohtani says he thinks heís a "pretty good" driver already, although he still hasnít driven onto the Los Angeles areaís famous freeways by himself.

With his recovery from Tommy John surgery in its final stages, Ohtani has plenty of other work to do this spring as he prepares to return to the Angelsí rotation in mid-May.

Ohtani will be able to hit for the Halos from the opening game of spring, but manager Joe Maddon has said the team is ramping up his pitching work gradually in a bid to keep him fresh for the long season ahead.

Ohtani made 10 starts for the Angels during his AL Rookie of the Year season in 2018, going 4-2 with a 3.31 Earned Run Average (ERA) and a 1.161 Walks & Hits per Innings Pitched (WHIP). Although he clearly demonstrated the tantalizing talent that made every team in baseball eager to land his services, Ohtani is taking nothing for granted as he prepares for his mound return.

"I still canít say Iím fully confident, because I only pitched in 10 games," Ohtani said. "A lot of the teams were facing me for the first time. I think in that case, the pitcher has the edge. So after I face the same team multiple times and still have good results, thatís probably when Iíll start building more confidence."

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