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Shohei Ohtani continues to hand out Porsches. This time Dave Roberts gets one


Shohei Ohtani gifted new teammate Joe Kelly’s wife with a new Porsche Panamera, a sports car with a sticker price between $100,000 and $200,000, when the Dodgers reliever agreed to give his jersey No. 17 to the two-way star after Ohtani signed a 10-year, $700-million deal with the Dodgers in mid-December.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts received a similar gift from Ohtani on Friday, but it was more of the gag variety, a mauve-colored model Porsche with a sticker price of … between $100 and $200.

Read more: Ohtani hits one out of the park, gifting a Porsche to Dodger pitcher Joe Kelly’s wife days before Christmas

The car was given to the manager to mark Ohtani tying Roberts’ franchise record for home runs by a Japanese-born player last weekend in Toronto, a mark that stood at seven entering Saturday night’s game against the Atlanta Braves.

Roberts, knowing Ohtani has a sponsorship deal with Porsche, had joked on the last road trip that “I need a new car.” Ohtani got the message and delivered … kind of.

“A Japanese-born player who is about to break my Dodgers record [for home runs] very soon, brought a gift, a Porsche,” Roberts told reporters Saturday afternoon, building suspense with his story.

“He brought it into my office … so there is context. He did buy me a car. And I guess I didn’t specify what type of car [I wanted]. So Shohei did bring in a nice little Porsche for me, so I can’t say he never gave me anything.”

Then in the third inning of Saturday night’s 11-2 win over the Braves, Ohtani hit a 392-foot solo shot into the right-field pavilion for home run No. 8, passing Roberts on the franchise home run list for Japanese-born players.

Asked after the game how he felt about passing Roberts, Ohtani, speaking through an interpreter, said, “Relieved.”

And what about the little prank he played on Roberts?

“He said he wanted a car — he got a car,” Ohtani said with a chuckle. “I’m glad he’s happy. … I like to make people laugh. I’m hoping I can do more of these.”

Roberts then interrupted Ohtani’s press conference, which took place in the hallway outside the Dodgers clubhouse, to show reporters the toy car Ohtani gave him and to make a little speech.

“Tonight, he passed me for the Japanese-born Dodgers home-run record, so Shohei, I just want to say congratulations and thank you very much,” Roberts said. “This is my car. The difference is Joe’s car doesn’t fit in my office. This car fits on my desk.”

Will Ohtani ever replace the toy car he gave Roberts with an actual Porsche he can drive?

“Yes, if we win the World Series,” Ohtani said, “I’ll think about it.”

Read more: Watch every home run Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani has hit this season

The laughter, the joke on his manager and his growing comfort with his new team after six years in Anaheim are just the latest indications that Ohtani has moved on from the scandal that led to the late-March firing of his former interpreter, Ippei Mizuhara, who was charged with stealing at least $16 million from Ohtani to pay off gambling debts.

The primary one is that Ohtani, the two-time American League most valuable player, is batting .345 with a 1.044 on-base-plus-slugging percentage, eight homers, 14 doubles, one triple, 22 RBIs, 28 runs and seven stolen bases in 34 games.

“I think with Shohei, it just speaks to how comfortable he feels here with the Dodgers, how excited he is to play winning baseball,” Roberts said. “He arguably has a chance to be one of the great players of our generation, if not beyond, but ultimately, guys are competitors, and they want to play for a championship.

“So I think the way he’s been received, the way he’s melded with our ballclub, how much the fans have embraced him … he feels it, and I believe that it translates into performance. I think he’s having as much fun as he’s ever had, and the play shows it.”

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.



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