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OC Register: Dodgers met with Shohei Ohtani on Friday – now go mum again


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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — When Dodgers manager Dave Roberts revealed Tuesday that the team had met with free agent Shohei Ohtani at Dodger Stadium, Roberts said the meeting had occurred “a couple days ago.”

More specifically, it was held on Friday afternoon. Stadium tours were postponed and canceled and the team store was closed so there wouldn’t be any accidental sightings of the two-time American League MVP visiting the Dodgers.

Roberts said the meeting lasted two or three hours and he felt it “went well.”

“I feel good about it. But … he’s his own man, which we all respect,” Roberts said.

“I think it’s pretty easy to have conversations with anyone if you feel comfortable in what you’re about, who you work with. We’re about people, we’re about winning, and so I think that that’s pretty easy to talk about. … There’s no hiding of the ball. It’s just kind of, ‘Here we are’ and we really hope he feels it’s a fit.”

Roberts’ revelation on Tuesday was not endorsed – or appreciated – by the team’s front office. Both Dodgers president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and general manager Brandon Gomes said they were surprised by their manager’s comments. Friedman took that a step further Wednesday and said he spoke with Roberts about it but he would not characterize that as a reprimand of Roberts.

“I was surprised by it,” Friedman said Wednesday. “But we had a really good conversation later in the day. I’ll leave it at that. We had a good conversation.”

Friedman would say nothing about Ohtani or his free agency and declined to say whether he thought Roberts’ comments could hurt the Dodgers’ chances of signing him. Ohtani and his agent, Nez Balelo, have reportedly told teams any leaks would be seen as strikes against them.

“I’m not going to get into that,” Friedman said. “There are things that, after a free-agent player signs, that you can talk through. But that’s just not something I’m going to get into right now.”

Ohtani’s visits with the San Francisco Giants at Oracle Park and the Toronto Blue Jays at their training complex in Dunedin, Florida have also been reported though officials from those teams have declined to confirm that.

“I can’t confirm we had one nor deny. So no comment on that,” Giants manager Bob Melvin said, though he also said the Giants needed to add “star power” to their roster this offseason.

Blue Jays manager John Schneider laughed as reporters repeatedly questioned him about a meeting with Ohtani that apparently took place Sunday in Florida.

“I live in Florida. So, I arrived here last night,” Schneider said Tuesday. “But, again, I think who we meet with and where we meet with them, we keep to ourselves.”

Amid reports that the Chicago Cubs were no longer in the running to sign Ohtani, their manager, Craig Counsell, said he had not been part of any meetings with the free agent. But Cubs president of baseball operations Jed Hoyer denied the Cubs were out of the Ohtani chase.

“I don’t know where that came from. There’s nothing to report whatsoever,” Hoyer said. “I think on all the Ohtani stuff, just like I would with any free agent, I’m not going to talk about discussions or meetings or where it is. We’ll just keep that quiet like anything else.”

ALSO

The Dodgers made their signing of outfielder Jason Heyward official Wednesday. The 34-year-old veteran agreed to a one-year, $9 million contract. The Dodgers’ 40-man roster is now full so their agreement on a one-year, $8 million deal with veteran relief pitcher Joe Kelly remains unofficial.

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