Shohei Ohtani ‘Very Honored’ Tying Hideki Matsui’s MLB Record For Home Runs By Japanese Player

Shohei Ohtani continued to eliminate off-the-field distractions on Friday as his first swing in the series opener between the San Diego Padres and Los Angeles Dodgers produced a solo shot to the opposite field.

That tied Ohtani with Hideki Matsui for the MLB record of most home runs by Japanese-born player with 175.

“I’m happy personally,” Ohtani said through interpreter Will Ireton after the Dodgers lost to the Padres in extra innings. “And it’s an honor to be able to be on the same stage as him. And obviously it’s a big deal in the Japanese baseball industry as well. So I’m going to look forward to the next one.”

The achievement is all the more memorable for Ohtani due to Matsui being a longtime idol of his.

“He’s known as a power hitter, a left-handed hitter like me. It’s just an honor to be able to be associated with somebody like that,” Ohtani added.

Ohtani’s accomplishment came on the same night he met with Amber Roman, the fan who caught the ball from his first Dodgers home run. It also occurred hours after former interpreter Ippei Mizuhara surrendered to authorities amid felony bank fraud charge.

Mizuhara was then released from custody on an unsecured $25,000 bond. Mizuhara only will be required to pay if he violates the bond’s conditions.

Even with all that swirling around him and facing daily media attention that’s been sent into overdrive, Ohtani had been aware of his proximity to Matsui’s home run record.

“I knew about it,” he said. “But I’m really focused on hitting just the next one.”

Shohei Ohtani nearing Dave Roberts’ Dodgers record

Ohtani’s latest power display extended his hitting streak to eight games and moved him closer to breaking the Dodgers record for most home runs by a Japanese player. That belongs to manager Dave Roberts, who hit seven home runs in his Dodgers career.

Ohtani enters play Saturday with four this season.

“I still got a couple days until my record’s broken,” Roberts quipped.

“Shohei, he’s doing it man. He’s playing great baseball. He’s got that look in his eye like he wants to be at the plate. And he’s just taking really good swings, hitting everything hard. I just marvel at what he’s done each day and his preparation. And just the talent is something that’s pretty remarkable.”

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