Japanese Baseball Star Ōtani to Join LA Angels


Los Angeles, Dec. 8 (Jiji Press)—Japanese professional baseball star Ōtani Shōhei, 23, has decided to join the Los Angeles Angels, his agent announced Friday.

Ōtani dons his number 17 Angels jersey at a December 9 press conference in Anaheim, California, announcing his decision to join the team. (© Jiji)

"While there has been much speculation about what would drive Shōhei's decision, what mattered to him most wasn't market size, time zone, or league, but that he felt a true bond with the Angels," Nez Balelo, Ōtani's agent, said in a statement.

"He sees this as the best environment to develop and reach the next level and attain his career goals," the statement added.

The Japanese two-way star, with both strong pitching and slugging skills, was posted on December 1 for transfer to a Major League team by the Hokkaidō Nippon Ham Fighters, a Japanese professional baseball club in the Pacific League. The deadline for him to pick a new team was December 22.

After graduating from Hanamaki Higashi High School in Iwate Prefecture, Ōtani joined the Fighters, based in Sapporo, in 2012.

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