When Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani was competing in the MLB Home Run Derby, he did not get off to the best start. He was unable to get any lift on the ball, hitting hard line drives consistently until calling for a time out. During that timeout, All-Star teammate Jared Walsh approached him with a phone call that many assumed was Angels star Mike Trout.
Given that no one denied it or said anything to the contrary, the story very quickly became that Trout called Ohtani and got him on track. Ohtani would come just shy of defeating Juan Soto in the first round after forcing a swing-off. However, new information from Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner suggested that Trout may not have been the caller at all.
Turner revealed that it was actually former Angel and current Dodger Albert Pujols on the other end of the phone call. He discussed that and the details of the call via the Holding Kourt Podcast hosted by Kourtney Turner:
“I do have an enormous spoiler, because they made a big deal out of this. In the middle of Ohtani’s round he got a phone call. Everyone is like, ‘Oh, Mike Trout called Ohtani!’ It was not Mike Trout. It was actually Albert Pujols. Albert called him in the middle and told him to stop trying to pull the ball and hit the ball to the middle of the field. He looked like he was just trying to yank homers as far as he could.
“The first minute and a half, he pulled every single ball foul. And Albert called him. Albert called him and told him to stop trying to pull everything. Like, dude, you have juice to left-center. Hit the ball to the middle of the field. I don’t know if it worked or not, but he took off and started hitting a bunch of homers after that.”
Pujols and Ohtani spent over three years together with the Angels, and the Hall of Fame first baseman got to see the development of one of baseball’s biggest stars. It makes sense that he would be able to provide words of encouragement for Ohtani.
Trout, on the other hand, was not the caller. However, there’s no doubting how much Trout has helped Ohtani’s development as well, even if he wasn’t telling him how to snap out of his funk during the Derby.
Ohtani starting on the mound Monday
Ohtani will be the Angels’ starting pitcher on Monday when they return to Anaheim and open up a three-game set against the Colorado Rockies. Joe Maddon called up Jaime Barria to make Sunday’s start to give Ohtani a fifth rest day between starts.