Adam Ottavino Defends Himself After Outburst While Facing Shohei Ohtani

'I feel like I'm guilty of a crime of passion there'


Jul 11, 2021

It wasn’t personal, just emotional, but some saw it as a bad look for Adam Ottavino when the Boston Red Sox reliever made a remark to Shohei Ohtani after getting him out to get out of a jam.

Especially when you consider how the Los Angeles Angels two-way All-Star played the rest of the series.

But the out ended a game in which Ottavino didn’t feel great about his performance, in a scenario he didn’t want to end up in against a player he respects tremendously. Speaking about the incident a few days later, he admits he reacted to the gravity of the situation. But that’s sports, and against anyone but Ohtani, Ottavino probably is praised for showing emotion.

“I feel like I’m guilty of a crime of passion there,” Ottavino told the Boston Herald’s Jason Mastrodonato in a piece published Sunday.

“It’s not a Shohei thing … Huge fan of his. But in that game, I didn’t pitch very well. I came out and I didn’t do what I needed to do. I walked the leadoff hitter on close pitches. I got frustrated with the umpire and then I got frustrated with myself, and frustrated with the shift, and then ended up in the one situation I told myself not to get to, which was the game on the line with Ohtani hitting.

“In that moment I had to take a deep breath and go to a dark, deep place and dig down. It was a place of anger to go into that. I knew it was his birthday, and I knew everyone wanted him to get a hit. My attitude was, ‘I don’t give a (expletive) about his birthday and I’m going to get him out.’ Whatever I said wasn’t directed at him. I was just yelling into nowhere-land. And somehow they read my lips.”

It might have been used as bulletin board material for the Angels, and you have to tip your cap when Ohtani pitches a solid outing in an LA win the next day and then goes yard in the finale to help his team win the series.

But like most pitchers, Ottavino has to be in a certain headspace. We’re talking about a guy with a spiritual pregame routine which includes a barefoot stroll around the field while listening to Fleetwood Mac. Which is pretty cool, honestly, but speaks to the ritualistic mentalities of athletes.

“But I say crazy stuff all the time,” Ottavino continued, sharing he hasn’t personally reached out to Ohtani.

“It’s just trying to get into a mental zone to do my job. Certainly I meant no disrespect. I guess it was disrespectful, so I felt a little bad. But at the same time, I was just doing whatever I had to do to get it out of myself and get the job done for my team.”

Thumbnail photo via Gary A. Vasquez/USA TODAY Sports Images
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