He's got to have some good stories to tell.
Very specifically, Rojas wants to hear them the first time Ohtani rides the team bus. And if they're not good, there will be consequences like possibly Ohtani spending time on the toilet.
Appearing on "The Chris Rose Rotation" podcast this week, Rojas was asked about teammates' reaction within his group chat upon learning that the Dodgers signed Ohtani to a 10-year, $700-million contract in December.
According to Rojas, the conversation almost immediately turned to what sounds like a rather odd team ritual involving new players.
“We started talking about what we’re gonna do for Shohei, how his first bus ride is gonna be with us, you know, like, what he’s gonna have to tell us on the bus," Rojas said. "... I’m telling you right now, Shohei, if you get bored people and you get three strikes on the bus, you’re gonna go to the [toilet]. I don’t care if you get $700 million, you better come prepared for your first bus trip because the rules are the rules."
On the podcast's Instagram page, it was explained that the players will "make Shohei sit on the toilet if he doesn’t tell a good story on the team bus."
The Dodgers and Rose did not immediately respond to questions from The Times for this story.
Rojas said the same goes for all the players the Dodgers signed in the offseason, and that he's even willing to learn some Japanese if necessary to understand the stories Ohtani and new pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto have to share.
Exactly what kind of stories are the players looking for?
“A lot of things I can’t really talk to you [about] right now, but for sure getting to know them, getting to know where they’re coming from, names of their pets, stuff like that," Rojas told Rose. "We wanna know stories about them when they were little, how they become big major league players, how everything started in Japan, stuff like that. ...
"We ask different questions. It’s a little more fun and trying to get them to laugh a little bit and trying to get them to feel connected and feel like we’re on the same page and we’re on the team.”
Rojas, who's in the second year of his second stint with the Dodgers, said he will get plenty from the experience as well — so much so that Ohtani would have to pay him at least a year of Rojas' salary (he's due to make $5 million this season) to get out of the storytelling deal.
“I don’t need a million dollars from Shohei. I need his story on the bus," Rojas said. "You do some stuff in baseball and in life not because of money. You do it for the moment and you do it for the history that you’re gonna tell later.”
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.