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Shohei Ohtani says signing with Los Angeles Dodgers is ‘all about winning’

By Jacob Lev, CNN

(CNN) — The Los Angeles Dodgers unveiled their newest acquisition Shohei Ohtani to the media on Thursday after the 29-year-old signed a historic 10-year, $700 million deal with the team last week,

The two-way superstar, who donned the team’s jersey during a press conference at the Dodger Stadium, told reporters that he hoped to be back as a hitter for Opening Day next season.

“I just saw my contract was 10 years, I’m not sure how long I will be able to play the game, so I do prioritize winning,” Ohtani said via a translator.

“That’s on the top of my list and I will probably never change and that’s one of the reasons why I chose this team.”

The two-time American League MVP said what stood out about the Dodgers was their commitment to success.

“When I had the meeting with the Dodgers – the ownership group, they said when they looked back at the last 10 years, even though they made the playoffs every single year, one World Series ring, they consider that a failure,” Ohtani said.

“When I heard that, I knew they were all about winning. That’s exactly how I feel. That’s one of the things that stood out.”

‘Always a challenger’

Ohtani had played for the Los Angeles Angels since moving to the MLB in 2017. Despite only moving across town, the Japanese star said there is always “sadness” leaving a team.

“Going forward with the Dodgers, I feel the same, pretty much the same as I did six years ago,” Ohtani said.

“I feel like I’m always a challenger. I always love challenges and I feel like I’ll be facing a lot of new challenges as a Dodger and I’m ready for it”

Ohtani underwent elbow surgery this offseason and will not pitch again until 2025. His agent, Nez Balelo, told reporters that the surgery was completely different to the Tommy John surgery he had in 2018, and said his client was recovering much quicker.

The two-way star said he thinks he will be ready for Opening Day in April 2024 as a hitter.

“Been taking dry swings the last week so I’m on a really good pace to be ready for Opening Day as long as I can get to spring training as scheduled and be able to play in the exhibition games,” he said.

The Dodgers are scheduled to open their spring training slate on February 22, 2024, against the San Diego Padres in Peoria, Arizona.

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