Ohtani says he wants to play in 2023 World Baseball Classic

Oct 5, 2022; Oakland, California, USA; Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani (17) delivers a pitch against the Oakland Athletics during the first inning at RingCentral Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: D. Ross Cameron

Nov 17 (Reuters) - Two-way standout Shohei Ohtani of Major League Baseball's Los Angeles Angels said on Thursday he wants to play for Team Japan at next year's World Baseball Classic.

Ohtani took to Instagram to say he has contacted Team Japan manager Hideki Kuriyama of his desire to play in the tournament for the first time in his career.

"I have officially informed Team Japan Manager Mr. Kuriyama that I would like to participate in next year's WBC," Ohtani wrote.

"Looking forward for the opportunity to face the best players around the world and to be able to play in front of the Japanese fans for the first time in over 5 years!!"

Taichung, Tokyo, Phoenix and Miami are the four host cities of the World Baseball Classic.

Japan are in Pool B of the March 8-21 tournament and will play their four opening round games and, should they advance, quarter-final in Tokyo.

The Angels said last month they agreed to a one-year, $30-million contract with Ohtani as part of an agreement that avoids arbitration.

The contract given to Ohtani, who was the American League's Most Valuable Player in 2021 after an awe-inspiring season in which he excelled as both a hitter and pitcher, is the largest given to an arbitration-eligible player.

Ohtani compiled a 15-9 record this year as a pitcher with a 2.33 ERA and 219 strikeouts. As a hitter, Ohtani had 34 home runs and 95 RBI.

Reporting by Frank Pingue in Toronto, editing by Ed Osmond

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