In the four years that Shohei Ohtani has been a member of the Los Angeles Angels, fans have seen him grow a bond with a number of Angels teammates. From Mike Trout to Jose Iglesias, he has clearly fit in well with the culture of the team. However, it appears that none of those are quite like his friendship with his interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara.
Mizuhara came with Ohtani from Japan to serve as his full-time interpreter. From postgame press conferences to mound visits, anywhere Ohtani was seen, Mizuhara was right by his side. The two met when Mizuhara was hired as the English interpreter for the Nippon-Ham Fighters, where Ohtani spent four years as a two-way superstar.
Now, Mizuhara will have another chance to be by Ohtani’s side as he completes another historic feat, as the interpreter will serve as Ohtani’s catcher for the 2021 MLB Home Run Derby. Mizuhara spoke about the excitement he feels surrounding the event, according to Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com:
“I’m excited about everything,” Mizuhara said. “He’s probably going to hit and pitch. That’s going to be the first. I just want to be able to enjoy everything, including the Home Run Derby.”
“I think as long as he does what he does normally, he’ll be in a good place,” Mizuhara said. “There’s not much I can do. I’m just sitting there, so I get the best view.”
Catchers at the Home Run Derby are generally ceremonious, as it’s expected that each pitch will travel at least 400 feet away from home plate. However, it’s not only a fun experience for Mizuhara and Ohtani, it’s fun for the fans who have seen them together for the last four years.
Since Mizuhara is not a catcher, he needed to borrow gear. Max Stassi lent him the catcher’s gear that he used for the Angels Fourth of July game against the Baltimore Orioles. The chest protector, among other things, are covered in stars and stripes, and Mizuhara felt it would be perfect for the event.
Ohtani hits 463 feet in Seattle
During a regular season MLB game, Ohtani still can hit baseballs into the stratosphere. He left teammates and opponents in awe after hitting a home run 463 feet into the upper deck at T-Mobile Park in Seattle, something only six players have ever done.