Shohei Otani and Ippei Mizuhara, the two who go back and forth between their home and the gym together every day… The magazine saw the “family-like” photos. | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Shohei Otani and Ippei Mizuhara, the two who go back and forth between their home and the gym together every day… The magazine saw the “family-like” photos.

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Otani leaves the sports club after training in November ’21.

Shohei Otani (28) has won the MVP award in the WBC and is receiving praise from around the world. It is no secret that Ippei Mizuhara (38), who has always supported his success behind the scenes, is more than just his personal interpreter. FRIDAY has witnessed the family-like relationship between Mizuhara and Otani not only in training and business, but also in their private life.

After the 2009 season, Otani returned to Japan after winning the MVP award in the Majors that year, but was forced to stay home for two weeks. In mid-November, after the waiting period was over, he left his apartment with Mizuhara to attend a press conference at the Japan Press Club, and then headed to the training gym on the same day. He was a driver and training partner for the trip, and continued to work with Mizuhara after returning to Japan.

Mizuhara met Otani in ’12 with the Nippon Ham Fighters and joined the Angels in ’17 as his personal interpreter. The year before last, when Ohtani won the MVP award with a full vote, the Angels’ official Instagram page praised Mizuhara as ‘the best interpreter. It seems that Mizuhara’s support for Otani, both publicly and privately, including helping him with his daily life in the area and playing catch with him, was highly regarded.

After training, the two returned to Otani’s apartment. From that day on, the two only go back and forth between the apartment and the gym every day. Otani rarely goes out outside of the gym. He was rarely seen outside of the gym, except for the occasional sighting of Mizuhara and his wife driving off in their car.

During this period, MLB was in the midst of a lockout after the old labor-management negotiations expired in December of ’21. During the lockout, team officials and players are not allowed to communicate with each other, so Mr. Mizuhara temporarily resigned from the Angels. With the restrictions removed, he was able to maintain more support and communication with Otani than in previous years. Mr. Mizuhara returned to work after the new labor agreement was signed in March of the following year.”

Mizuhara’s role did not end there; it is a well-known story that he was the first to contact Lars Nutber (25) of the Cardinals, who created the “Peppermill Pose” craze throughout Japan during the WBC.

Otani definitely wanted to win the WBC, and he was secretly recruiting major leaguers during the season who would qualify for the Samurai Japan team,” Mizuhara said. At that time, the Cardinals won the regional championship, and Mizuhara contacted Nutobar on behalf of Otani via SNS to talk to him about the Samurai Japan team for the WBC and see if he would be willing to play. A few months later, Mizuhara was able to arrange a remote meeting with Hideki Kuriyama, 61, the manager of the team,” said a sports journalist.

Otani will become a free agent after this season. According to the American media, he is expected to sign the largest contract in history, which is estimated to be worth $550 million (about ¥72 billion) over 11 years. In the second at-bat of the fourth inning, Ohtani hit a single to right field off Clayton Kershaw, one of the best left-handers in the major leagues. It appears that he will be able to start the season in good form. As long as this duo continues to be the best in the majors, no matter where they are, we are sure to see “SHO TIME” on a daily basis.

Mizuhara leaving the sports club with Otani
Mr. Mizuhara is always in the driver’s seat. Otani in the passenger seat.
A smug two-shot of Otani and Mexico’s Arosarena (from @MLBjapan official Twitter)
Otani poses for a photo with Munetaka Murakami (photo taken from Shohei Otani’s Instagram @shoheiohtani)
From left to right, Nutobar, Yoshinobu Yamamoto, and Otani pose for a photo at Tokyo Dome with Akinori Sasaki (photo taken from Shohei Otani’s Instagram @shoheiohtani)
Otani poses for a photo with Fletcher, a member of the Italian national team and colleague of the Angels (photo taken from Shohei Otani’s Instagram @shoheiohtani)
Ohtani in a photo with Takuya Kai (photo taken from Shohei Ohtani’s Instagram @shoheiohtani)
The Japanese flag really looks good on Otani (photo taken from Shohei Otani’s Instagram @shoheiohtani)
  • PHOTO Shu Nishihara

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