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Who did Shohei Ohtani marry? Dodgers teammates didn’t know he had a wife: ‘Was there a wedding?’

Shohei Ohtani smiles while warming up at the batting cages.
The Dodgers’ Shohei Ohtani warms up during a spring training workout at Camelback Ranch in Phoenix. Ohtani announced on social media that he is married to a Japanese woman.
(Robert Gauthier / Los Angeles Times)
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Shohei Ohtani’s life away from the baseball diamond has always been intensely private. About all he’s ever revealed is that he owns a dog named Dekopin.

Until now. Ohtani, 29, posted on Instagram in the early hours Thursday morning that he is married. Yes, the two-way superstar has his first ring as a Dodger, and it came as a shock even to the Japanese media horde that covers his every public word, step and swing.

“Not only have I begun a new chapter in my career with the Dodgers but I also have begun a new life with someone from my native country of Japan who is very special to me and I wanted everyone to know I am now married,” he wrote.

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“I am excited for what is to come and thank you for your support.”

In a scrum with reporters Thursday afternoon, Ohtani offered few details about his wife, their relationship or when they got married.

Announcing a marriage on Instagram might strike Americans as peculiar. But based on how celebrities are treated in Japan, nothing about this was abnormal.

March 1, 2024

He described her as a “normal Japanese woman” — indicating she is not a fellow celebrity in their home country. He said they have known each other for three to four years, though they’ve gone on few public dates because of the attention Ohtani receives when he goes out. He also revealed that they became engaged last year, and that she joined him in Arizona for spring training this year.

“It’s fun to be together,” he said in Japanese. “I was able to imagine being together for a long time.”

Ohtani’s announcement that he was married came in the middle of the night in the U.S. — it was late afternoon in Japan — and was a surprise to fans, media members and even Ohtani’s new teammates with the Dodgers.

Prior to the announcement, the two-time MVP had never even divulged that he had a girlfriend.

“I was as surprised as everyone was,” said manager Dave Roberts, whose wife informed him of Ohtani’s marriage post Thursday morning. “But very happy for him and his bride.”

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“Was there a wedding?” third baseman Max Muncy joked when asked about not being invited to the ceremony. “I don’t know if anyone even knows if there was a wedding.”

What is known is that the couple have a canine companion. Ohtani included a photo of Dekopin, a Dutch Kooikerhondje whose English name is Decoy, on his Instagram announcement with these words: “We hope the two of us — and one animal — will work together.”

The pooch — which Ohtani said was his idea to get — became a star of its own after Ohtani introduced him to the public while discussing his American League MVP award during a televised interview on MLB Network in November.

“Maybe,” infielder Miguel Rojas said with a laugh when asked if he planned to give Ohtani a wedding gift, “something for his dog.”

As for as the timing of the announcement, Ohtani said he wanted to do it now to avoid any distractions once the regular season begins. He would have announced it sooner, he added, had the couple not encountered undisclosed paperwork issues.

“Because of that,” he said, “it was delayed.”

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Ohtani also insisted that his relationship had “absolutely nothing to do” with his decision to sign a 10-year, $700-million contract with the Dodgers as a free agent this offseason.

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“That’s separate from baseball,” Ohtani said, while noting that his wife was supportive of his decision. “The feeling was that she would go anywhere with me. So it was completely unrelated to that. The No. 1 priority was where I wanted to play.”

Now, he not only has a new team to play for, but also a wife by his side as he enters the next chapter of his career.

“There wasn’t one thing,” Ohtani said when asked what he likes most about his bride. “It’s her overall vibe. It’s fun to be together. I think we’re a match.”

What started as a slow day for Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani ended with the type of dramatic flair the team hopes to experience often.

Feb. 27, 2024

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