Dodgers Team News

Dave Roberts Reveals Conversation With Shohei Ohtani to Help Dodgers’ Star Improve

Shohei Ohtani was aware that his 1-for-19 start with runners in scoring position was unacceptable for him and the team. So, he turned to his manager for some guidance.

Traditionally, Ohtani has been good with runners in scoring position. Going into Tuesday’s game against the Washington Nationals, Ohtani had a career slash line in those situations of .290/.420/.615 with 45 home runs.

But, something was different and prompted Dave Roberts to talk with his designated hitter.

“I think it was more of just kind of seeing how they were pitching him with runners in scoring position,” Roberts said. “I thought he was expanding (his strike zone) a little bit more than he needed to. So I just wanted to have the conversation with him.

“Just trying to make him aware of what I feel he could do better, what pitchers are trying to do to him, given his track record, tendencies.”

Ohtani also admitted to reporters that he had widened his zone and this is something that he is conscious of moving forward.

“The zone that I am swinging is a little bit larger with runners in scoring position,” Ohtani said through interpreter Will Ireton. “With nobody on base, I’m pretty good at it. So it’s just widening down the zone. And yes, we talked about it with Doc.”

Roberts has been keeping close tabs on how the Dodgers’ opponents have been pitching to Ohtani and has realized that as long as his superstar hitter controls his strike zone then he would have more success. Teams are pitching to him differently because there isn’t a scouting report that guarantees an out.

“It’s different,” he said. “I think some try to crowd him. Some try to go up. Some try to spin him. It just boils down to … like all hitters, if you control the strike zone, swing at strikes. But with Shohei, there’s just gonna be more damage (if you miss).”

Friday in Toronto, Ohtani returned the favor to his manager. He tied Roberts in the Dodgers’ all-time record book for the most home runs hit by a Japanese-born player, with seven:

Photo Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

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Maren Angus

Maren Angus-Coombs was born in Los Angeles and raised in Nashville, Tenn. She is a graduate of Middle Tennessee State University and has been a sports writer since 2008. Despite being raised in the South, her sports obsession has always been in Los Angeles. She is currently a staff writer for Dodgers Nation and the LA Sports Report Network.

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