Blue Jays manager John Schneider playfully welcomes booing of Shohei Ohtani: ‘Hopefully they give it to him a little bit’

Photo credit:Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports
Thomas Hall
4 hours ago
Shohei Ohtani has landed in Toronto, for real this time.
Ohtani and the Los Angeles Dodgers will begin a three-game series at Rogers Centre versus the Toronto Blue Jays on Friday, marking the first time the $700-million superstar has appeared north of the border since he signed the richest contract in professional sports last winter — which an entire nation thought was going to be with Canada’s lone MLB franchise.
Or, at least, they did until reports from MLB Network’s Jon Morosi and Dodgers Nation’s JP Hoornstra proved inaccurate after a flight supposedly carrying Ohtani from California to Toronto on Dec. 8 — one baseball fans had been tracking all afternoon — was actually for Canadian investor Robert Herjavec.
To the dismay of Jays nation, Ohtani announced his decision the next morning via an Instagram post, saying he had agreed to join the Dodgers for the next decade. It was a serious gut punch for baseball fans across Canada, who’ll have the chance to express those feelings this weekend in Toronto.
“It might be a little different,” Blue Jays manager John Schneider told MLB.com, “especially with those 12 or 24 hours in Toronto in December. Hopefully they give it to him a little bit, but man, he’s a hell of a player. He’s a great player. You don’t like watching him from the other dugout, but you have to appreciate how good he is. It will be interesting to see how the fans welcome him.”
Schneider is seemingly in favour of booing Ohtani. Dodgers skipper Dave Roberts, on the other hand, doesn’t expect there to be much or any ill will directed toward the Japanese superstar.
“I think he should get a fine reception,” Roberts said. “A lot of that stuff that kind of came out wasn’t his doing. So it’s not like he disrespected the fan base at all. He entertained them and had nice things to say about them. So I expect him to be just fine.”
The Blue Jays heavily pursued Ohtani over the off-season, as did many other teams. They met with the two-way star ahead of the 2023 Winter Meetings in Nashville. And, since they agreed to keep negotiations private per his request, a last-minute schedule change involving GM Ross Atkins’ media availability forced his in-person meeting to be switched to a virtual video call.
Toronto’s front office poured significant resources into hunting baseball’s brightest star. Efforts that, unfortunately, proved all for naught in the end, as they couldn’t sway him from leaving the West Coast.
Ohtani’s intentions, however, seemed genuine. His interest in them was considerable enough that he accepted a visit to the organization’s top-notch player development complex in Dunedin, Fla. As an analytics lover and a baseball perfectionist, he undoubtedly took notice of the resources and facilities that would’ve been available to him had he signed with the franchise.
“In regards to the offseason, I was as surprised as any fans, in terms of the news that was going around,” Ohtani said through Dodgers interpreter Will Ireton. “But I did meet with the Blue Jays organization. And the impression that I got was it was a really, really great organization. The fans are really good. The city, too. So I’m really looking forward to going to Toronto.”
Even so, many fans in this country remain heartbroken over what would’ve been a franchise-altering signing, both on and off the field. But was any of this real, or was it simply a negotiating tactic to leverage the Dodgers into paying a steeper price? The harsh reality is we’ll likely never know.
A tougher pill to swallow is Ohtani has been as advertised for Los Angeles early on, as he enters Friday’s opener with six home runs, 16 RBIs and a .358/.419/.670 in 27 games as the club’s everyday DH. He ranks third among qualified big-league hitters in wRC+ at 197, trailing only Atlanta’s Marcell Ozuna (198) and teammate Mookie Betts (209).
Navigating through the top third of the Dodgers’ lineup — featuring Betts, Ohtani and Freddie Freeman — will be incredibly difficult for Blue Jays pitchers. But one thing their hitters won’t have to worry about is facing Ohtani, who isn’t expected to pitch in 2024 after undergoing elbow surgery last September.

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