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Shohei Ohtani talks baseball superstardom, Stephen A. Smith criticisms in GQ article

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Los Angeles Angels designated hitter/pitcher Shohei Ohtani has established himself as must-see TV due to being the only duel-threat in Major League Baseball.

His skills at the plate and on the mound have given the sport a whole new look and brought it more new fans.

Ohtani's 2021 season was one for the ages. He hit 46 home runs, drove in 100 runs, plus started 23 games a pitcher going, 9-2 with a 3.18 ERA, while striking out 156 batters.

He unanimously won the American League Most Valuable Player award and was also named the Male Athlete of Year Award by the Associated Press.

The 27-year-old Ohtani discussed his meteoric rise in the February issue of GQ.

“More than pressure,” Ohtani said. “I'm actually happy to hear that. It's what I came here for, to be the best player I can. And hearing ‘the face of baseball,’ that's very welcoming to me, and it gives me more motivation to — because I've only had, this was my first really good year. And it's only one year. So it gives me more motivation to keep it up, and have more great years.”

Shohei Ohtani hit 46 home runs with 100 RBI in 537 at-bats in 2021.
Shohei Ohtani hit 46 home runs with 100 RBI in 537 at-bats in 2021.

He also addressed comments made by ESPN's Stephen A. Smith. Smith said that Ohtani's use of an interpreter to communicate with the media and fans harmed the game.

“But when you talk about an audience gravitating to the tube or to the ballpark to actually watch you," Smith said. "I don’t think it helps that the No. 1 face is a dude that needs an interpreter so you can understand what the hell he’s saying, in this country.”

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Ohtani disagreed with that take and said if he could speak English, that he would.

"Of course I would want to," Ohtani said. "Obviously it wouldn't hurt to be able to speak English. There would only be positive things to come from that. But I came here to play baseball, at the end of the day, and I've felt like my play on the field could be my way of communicating with the people, with the fans. That's all I really took from that in the end."

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Shohei Ohtani comfortable being the 'face of baseball'