TEMPE, Ariz. — A few days after Shohei Ohtani was noncommittal in response to questions about his future, agent Nez Balelo was equally noncommittal, although he added that he’s “open” to talking any time.
Balelo watched the final hour of the Angels’ first full-squad workout of the spring on Monday. Balelo spent much of the time chatting with General Manager Perry Minasian, who had been equally mum on Ohtani’s future before camp opened.
After their conversation broke, Balelo was surrounded by reporters looking for any hints about the status of negotiations between the Angels and Ohtani over an extension.
“My typical answer to all of that is you know I don’t comment on any of that kind of stuff,” Balelo said. “Right now, Shohei is an Angel. He’s going to be an Angel all year. He’s thrilled about it. Perry has put together a really good team so we’re excited about what is to come in ’23.”
Balelo also declined to put any sort of deadline on negotiations. He said he is “always open” to talking, including during spring training. He suggested it becomes more challenging once the season begins, though.
“It’s a fine line when you ask a player to go through something like that during the season,” Balelo said. “Typically, it doesn’t happen, but I don’t have the crystal ball in front of me. I would just say that it’s tough to be able to have a discussion that will be so meaningful during the season. That probably makes more sense to table it and wait till the end of the season.”
Balelo added that Ohtani has been happy with his Angels experience, notwithstanding his well-chronicled frustration that the team has not been able to win.
“He’s been here five years,” Balelo said. “He knows everybody, knows the staff. He’s comfortable. Loves the area. Everything about it. It’ll be a really interesting year. We’re excited about it. So we’ll just see how everything shakes out.”
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Ohtani is making $30 million this season, a record for a player who has less than the six years of service time needed to qualify for free agency. His next deal is expected to surpass Mike Trout’s record $426 million deal in total value.
Phil Nevin, in his first spring training as a major league manager, delivered a speech in the clubhouse before the first full-squad workout. “I suppose I’ve only been thinking of that one for 20-some-odd years,” Nevin quipped. …
Right-hander Ben Joyce drew a crowd to watch his first live batting practice session of the spring. The Angels’ third-round pick last year, Joyce has hit 105 mph with his fastball, and he consistently throws around 101 mph. …
Ohtani faced live pitching for the first time this spring on Monday. He is scheduled to face hitters for the first time off the mound on Tuesday.