Shohei Ohtani’s dream of becoming the first Japanese player to hit 50 shots next season has been transformed into reality through “shock training” during his time with Nippon Ham. | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Shohei Ohtani’s dream of becoming the first Japanese player to hit 50 shots next season has been transformed into reality through “shock training” during his time with Nippon Ham.

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Ohtani when he hit a grand slam homer No. 43 in August. Next season, he is expected to become the first Japanese hitter to hit 50 homers.

It is unfortunate that he was injured and finished the season in the middle of the season, but he did what only he could do. This year, because of the World Baseball Classic (WBC), he ran for six months from March, won 10 games, and hit 40 home runs, which even Babe Ruth could not do. He has surpassed the ‘God of Baseball,’ so his numbers are nothing short of amazing.

Keiichi Yabu, a former Hanshin ace who has also pitched in the majors, said.

On August 24, Shohei Ohtani (29) of the Angels damaged his right elbow ligament. He underwent surgery on August 19 (local time) and is no longer eligible to play this season. However, Otani has hit 44 home runs this season, six more than second place as of August 24, and is favored to become the first Japanese major leaguer to win the home run crown.

Otani is changing that image,” said Matsui Hideki, who has hit 50 homers in Japan. Even Hideki Matsui, who hit 50 homers in Japan, could not become the homerun king in the majors. Ichiro, who hit 200 hits every year, had an impact on Major League Baseball, and I think Otani is having that same impact this season, and I think winning the title will change the image of Japanese players in the Majors.

Ohtani probably had the mindset of “winning a title in the Majors” from the time he was still in Japan. A former pitcher who was a hitting pitcher for a Pacific League team when Otani was a member of Nippon Ham reveals, “When Nippon Ham won the championship, I thought, ‘I’m going to win a title in the Majors.

I think it was in 2004 when Nippon Ham won the championship. After the official games started, the Nippon Ham pitchers who were on an outing used the weight room before I did weight training, and Otani was there. It was two days before his pitching appearance, and he was doing deadlifts.

This workout involves lifting a barbell on the ground using mainly the back, buttocks, and legs, and it is very taxing on the body. The barbell that Otani lifted was still there, so I tried lifting it, but I couldn’t lift it (laughs). The weight was probably about 170 kg.

I have experience in the military, but I can’t train this hard two days before pitching. I thought that his basic physical fitness was different from mine, and since he had been told at the time that he was going to be in the majors in the near future, I thought that he was looking at things differently and aiming for different things.

Mr. Yabu continues, “Everyone has their own training methods.

I saw YouTube videos of DeNA’s Bauer and others training with very heavy weights, so I thought that training with very heavy weights even two days before pitching would be a good fit for Otani’s senses. I think he kept doing it because it was a good fit.

In my case, two days before climbing the plate, I trained mainly on my shoulders because training using the entire body would reduce my strength, but in the case of deadlifts, there was a risk of hurting my back, so I did not do them.

What is even more amazing about Ohtani is that he can easily go out as a batter the day after pitching. The day after I pitched, my body was still under intense tension, and my routine was to do aerobic training the next day to drain the waste out of my body, and then take a complete rest on the second day. In other words, it was a recovery day for at least 48 hours after pitching. It is impossible to stay out all the time like Otani (laughs). Only he can do it.”

He is expected to be able to start the season as a hitter, although surgery on his right elbow has prevented him from pitching this season or even next season.

I expect him to get 50 hits next season,” said Kubota, “although he will probably get home-ranked in the American League this season.

I think his continued training since his days with Nippon Ham has helped him to constantly improve his body and increase his resilience. When I watched YouTube of Bauer, who won the Cy Young Award, he even talked about the autonomic nervous system, and I think the U.S. is more advanced in the way they go about training. I think Ohtani there, of course, updates it every year. So I think he will continue to evolve.”

If his rehabilitation progresses smoothly, he will be able to continue his big dream of becoming the first Japanese to hit 50 bombs in the 2024 season.

  • PHOTO Kyodo News

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