Maddon: Shohei Ohtani didn’t say he wants to leave Angels

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Shohei Ohtani

Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani hits a single in the sixth inning of a baseball game against the Seattle Mariners, Sunday, Sept. 26, 2021, in Anaheim, Calif. The Mariners won 5-1. (AP Photo/Michael Owen Baker)

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Los Angeles Angels manager Joe Maddon said Tuesday that Shohei Ohtani’s comments last weekend about wanting to win don’t mean the two-way star wants to leave the organization when he becomes a free agent after the 2023 season.

Ohtani, an AL MVP front-runner with 45 home runs and a 3.18 ERA, said Sunday that although he likes the team, the fans and the atmosphere, his top priority is winning.

“We all feel the same way, we all want to win,” Maddon said before the Angels’ game at Texas on Tuesday night. “If anybody misconstrues that as though he wants to leave, that’s trying to connect some dots that weren’t necessarily what he, not at all what he said.

“He also mentioned how much he loves it here. The inner sanctum of the clubhouse, the guys, the coaching staff, everything about it. The area. The fans. He loves them all. We all want to get to the next level, and we see it as an absolute possibility it’s going to happen here in the very near future.”

The Angels have had a losing record in six straight seasons and missed the playoffs in seven consecutive years, the last four with Ohtani. Maddon and star outfielder Mike Trout have recently condemned the franchise’s largely ineffective roster-building work.

“This can’t continue to go on,” Maddon said last week. “We can’t annually be in this position. This organization is better than that. We deserve better than that.”

Ohtani said Sunday via interpreter Ippei Mizuhara that it was “very frustrating, very disappointing,” and that “I always look forward to being in the playoff race at the end.”

Still, Maddon thinks Ohtani isn’t planning on jumping ship at the first opportunity.

“Don’t forget all the platitudes that he mentioned regarding everything else because I think that overrides just saying that he wants to win and somehow connect that to he wants to leave,” Maddon said.

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