The wrong and silent type for MLB

Shohei Ohtani: The wrong and silent type for MLB originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

The AL West-leading Angels might have a big problem with Shohei Ohtani if ​​the groin tightness that forced him from Sunday’s game keeps acting up (he was a late scratch from the Monday lineup and pinch hit late in the loss to the White Sox).

But MLB might have a bigger problem with the greatest baseball player on the planet if he keeps up the aloof and dismissive pregame policy of shunning all public discourse, including with the traveling core of Angels beat writers, as his star in the game rises.

Not that anybody should give a rat’s ass about the media’s wants and needs. If a player doesn’t have time or use for a reporter, that’s part of the job (been there, done that, and then some).

But a blanket policy by the greatest player on the planet to shut down any daily contact with the game’s conduit to the fans is shirking part of his job, and can’t be what the commissioner’s office has in mind as it tries to grow the game globally.

To be clear, it’s not a team policy of Joe Maddon’s Angels. For example, Mike Trout, one of the two greatest players on the planet, isn’t always the easiest player to find in the clubhouse before a game, but if he’s got a minute he will generally take the time.

Ohtani hid in plain site before Friday’s game on the South Side, one of maybe a half-dozen players sitting at his locker when the clubhouse opened, his interpreter standing a couple feet away. He sat silently watching as two Chicago writers asked him directly and asked the interpreter for enough time to ask a question about Suzuki, eliciting a refusal by the interpreter to ask the player for the time and a sheepish advisory from the late-arriving media relations rep that Ohtani doesn’t like to talk before games. Any games.

The sequence quickly drew the attention of Angels media, who wondered if a rare pregame spoken word from the greatest player on the planet was afoot.

Japanese reporters say he’s even more dismissive of media from back home. And sources within the game say the overall attitude is part of a reputation Ohtani has developed since arriving in the majors four years ago.

It’s not going to make much difference in the life of the average ball writer, as long as baseball keeps the press box hot dogs coming.

But this one might be worth a little more than “a piece of metal” to Rob Manfred as he and his staff work on the popularity of the game.

Did we mention the part about greatest player on the planet?

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