Los Angeles Angels star Shohei Ohtani admitted it is tough to remain motivated amid the team’s losing streak.
Los Angeles tied a major league record with seven solo home runs, including two by Ohtani, but still lost to the Oakland Athletics 8-7 Thursday.
Following the Angels’ game on Wednesday – another defeat to the A’s, this time a 3-1 loss – Ohtani admitted it was tough to remain motivated when Los Angeles’s playoff chances have slipped well out of their grasp.
‘Remaining motivated in that way is hard,’ Ohtani said in Japanese, via the Los Angeles Times.
But the 28-year-old, who pitched well in the defeat, insisted that he was remaining focused.
‘Individually, there are many things I have to do,’ he said. ‘But my life in baseball will continue for some time and whatever the circumstances, I’d like to be focused each and every game.’
The Angels enter Friday with a 44–61 record and currently sit in fourth place in the AL West and are also 12 games out of the third wild-card spot in the American League.
Ohtani has arguably carried the team at times this season. He pitched 5 2/3 innings and struck out seven, giving up only two earned runs Wednesday.
Last month, he struck out 11 and gave up two earned runs in six innings during the Angels’ defeat to the Texas Rangers.
Ohtani admitted there has been a shift in the team’s mentality compared with earlier in the season.
‘Things are different from when we were winning earlier in the season,’ he said. ‘That’s why we became sellers. As a team, of course, you can’t continue to play with the high morale that you had when you were aiming for the postseason.
‘We’re not in a place where it’s good to just think that if you do what you can do in this one at-bat or one inning, or get a result against this one batter, and pile that up and just win the game.
‘As a player, it’s pretty tough knowing the chances are low that a win will play a part in getting you to the postseason. But I think I’d like to do what I have to do the best I can.’
With the Angels so far out of playoff contention, rumors were swirling whether Ohtani would be traded before last Tuesday’s deadline.
The Angels may have ‘listened’ to offers for star Ohtani, but talks reportedly went nowhere as owner Arte Moreno ‘didn’t even want to hear offers,’ according to the New York Post.
The Yankees and Padres were among the ‘dozen or so’ teams that tried engaging with the embattled franchise, who ultimately decided to hold onto Ohtani with their other franchise cornerstone Mike Trout out injured.
However, Los Angeles did trade a trio of stars – starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard, closer Raisel Iglesias and outfielder Brandon Marsh – to three legitimate playoff contenders.
Ohtani revealed he will still be cheering on his former teammates as he wished them the best.
‘I’m cheering from the bottom of my heart for the players who left,’ Ohtani said. ‘I’d like them to be part of good teams, get results and do their best in the postseason.’