SAN FRANCISCO -- Los Angeles Angels' two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani said on May 3 that he was disappointed he would not be able to play against legendary Seattle Mariners' outfielder Ichiro Suzuki during the teams' May 4 to 6 series in Seattle.
The two Japanese baseball stars were set to play against each other for the first time. However, Ichiro was released by the Mariners on May 3 to take up a front office role, meaning the 44-year-old star would not be on the field when Ohtani came to town.
"Personally it's something that I really wanted to do," Ohtani, 23, said of playing against Ichiro. Ohtani is expected to take the mound versus the Mariners for the May 6 series finale, after he missed his last start against the Baltimore Orioles on May 1 due to a left ankle sprain.
"To play in the same stadium (as Ichiro) is something I've longed to do. I feel a bit disappointed," the rookie sensation said. There was also anticipation for an Ichiro-Ohtani confrontation among North American baseball fans, with even the official Major League Baseball website commenting on the sense of disappointment.
For rising star Ohtani, Ichiro was "someone who I always wanted to aspire to be," adding, "That will never change. I will try my best every day to be as good as him."
(Japanese original by Hiromi Nagano, Los Angeles Bureau)