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Shohei Ohtani discusses ‘negative impression’ of the Angels’ season

Shohei Ohtani reiterated his disappointment in the Angels’ season when he spoke to reporters upon arrival at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport on Tuesday.

“I have to say that August and September in particular felt longer to me than last year,” Ohtani said, speaking in Japanese. “We were not able to play as many good games as we would like – including 14 consecutive losses. So I have a rather negative impression of this season.”

The Angels finished 73-89 and missed the playoffs for the eighth consecutive year, including all of Ohtani’s five years in the majors. The Angels have not even had a winning record in Ohtani’s tenure.

Ohtani has said repeatedly that he wants to win, and he’s disappointed that the Angels have been unable to do so even while he’s performed at a historic level as a two-way player. When he spoke to reporters following the Angels’ final game of the season, he declined to address his thoughts on Angels’ management or the direction of the team in 2023.

“I don’t have much to say about all the offseason transactions,” Ohtani said through his interpreter Oct. 5, “but what I have control over is for me to get better in the offseason. Do better than last year. Do better than this year. The better I get, the better the chances of us getting in the postseason. So that’s my focus.”

Ohtani, 28, is under contract to the Angels for a record $30 million in 2023, and then he can become a free agent.

General manager Perry Minasian said earlier this month that he wants to keep Ohtani with the Angels “for a long time.” It’s unlikely there is any decision on Ohtani’s future – signing him to an extension or trading him – before a new owner is identified. Owner Arte Moreno announced in August he would explore a sale of the team. It’s unclear how long that process might take. It could be wrapped up in a few months, or it could drag into next season.

Next up for Ohtani is the announcement of the Cy Young and MVP awards, which will be Nov. 16 and Nov. 17, respectively. Ohtani is likely to finish second to New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge for the MVP award, and he could finish in the top three or four for the Cy Young.

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Ohtani was 15-9 with a 2.33 ERA in 166 innings, and he hit .273 with 34 homers and an .875 OPS. Ohtani has said he believes his performance in 2022 was overall better than when he was the unanimous MVP in 2021.

Speaking in Japan, Ohtani also reiterated his interest in playing in the World Baseball Classic next spring. Minasian has already cleared Ohtani to play if that’s his choice.

“Many top-class Major League players from the United States and Latin America have announced their participation,” Ohtani said. “Participating in this tournament is very appealing to me. I have that kind of feeling.”

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