October 1, 2023

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Shohei Ohtani’s closet was emptied.  Angels to explain the Sabbath.

Shohei Ohtani’s closet was emptied. Angels to explain the Sabbath.

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Shohei Ohtani’s locker was mostly cleared out at Angel Stadium, and the Los Angeles Angels declined to say why on Friday night.

The two-time star missed his 11th straight game with an oblique muscle injury Friday night when the Angels lost 11-2 to the Detroit Tigers. Although Ohtani was on the field before the game, the soon-to-be free agent’s locker was largely empty afterward.

Almost all of his personal belongings had been removed from his locker and the empty stall next door. There was a fully packed bag bearing a logo from the 2023 All-Star Game in front of his booth where his shoes normally would be, and only a few practice jerseys hung on the rack.

Nearly a half-hour after reporters were allowed into the locker room and noticed the absence of Ohtani’s possessions, an Angels spokesman said the team would provide more information about the development on Saturday.

Ohtani will be a free agent this winter after six seasons with the Angels, and his future has been a constant source of speculation this season, only increasing after Los Angeles fell out of the playoff race in August. Ohtani has remained tight-lipped about his future, and his recent injuries have changed the discussion about his long-term plans.

He had already been suspended as a pitcher this season due to a torn ligament in his right elbow, but the Angels were hopeful he could return as a hitter this month after straining his oblique in batting practice last week.

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Ohtani remains the front-runner for his second American League Most Valuable Player award in three years, but Texans outfielder Corey Seager may catch voters’ minds. Ohtani, who went 10-5 with a 3.14 ERA this season, leads the AL with 44 homers, and his 1.066 OPS is second-best in the majors, now trailing only Seager.