June 19, 2024

There were more than 300 media members there in person, and countless more fans watching on television from home.

For the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery in September, since becoming a free agent at the start of the offseason, and since signing with the Dodgers on a heavily-deferred 10-year, $700-million contract this week, Shohei Ohtani spoke publicly during an introductory news conference at Dodger Stadium on Thursday.

His first words donning blue and white?

“I would like to thank the Los Angeles Dodgers organization for giving me an opportunity to play here,” he said through interpreter Ippei Mizuhara. “I can’t wait to play for the Dodgers. They share the same passion as me, a vision and history of winning.”

So began the Ohtani era at Chavez Ravine, one that has already generated immense local, national and global excitement surrounding the two-way star since he announced his decision to sign with the Dodgers on Saturday.

After six years in Anaheim with the Angels, Ohtani’s introduction in Los Angeles on Thursday was a spectacle, with the center field plaza at Dodger Stadium packed with cameras and reporters eagerly awaiting Ohtani’s first public comments since Aug. 9.

Ohtani wasn’t the only attraction Thursday. Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman was also present to discuss the signing for the first time. So too was Dodgers manager Dave Roberts, Dodgers general manager Brandon Gomes and Ohtani’s agent at CAA Sports, Nez Balelo.

But it was Ohtani’s explanation of his free-agent process, decision to join the Dodgers and expectations for the future that were most eagerly anticipated.

For the first time in months, he was an open book.

And if the media craze that accompanied the start of his next chapter was any indication, the spotlight under which he and the Dodgers are now basking isn’t soon to let up.

This a developing story that will be updated.

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