Shohei Ohtani isn't shying away from his status as the face of baseball.
In an interview with GQ, the Angels' two-way star reflected on his historic season that landed him unanimous MVP honors and the rare Commissioner's Historic Achievement Award. In the process, Ohtani became one of the game's biggest stars and became a cross-sport story, recognized by the Guinness World Records for becoming the first MLB player to record more than 100 innings and strikeouts as a pitcher and 100 RBIs, hits and runs as a batter in a single season.
"I'm actually happy to hear that," Ohtani said when asked about being the face of the sport. "It's what I came here for, to be the best player I can. And hearing 'the face of baseball,' that's very welcoming to me, and it gives me more motivation too -- because I've only had, this was my first really good year. And it's only one year. So it gives me more motivation to keep it up and have more great years."
Ohtani also responded to the idea that baseball is fading from America's national consciousness and becoming less relevant as a sport.
"Baseball was born here, and I personally want baseball to be the most popular sport in the United States," Ohtani said. "So if I can contribute in any way to help that, I'm more than open to it. But if you look at the whole baseball population in the world, it's a lot less than, like soccer and basketball, because only select countries are really big on baseball. But in those countries where it's huge, it's unbelievably huge."
Major League Baseball has taken steps to experiment with baseball's rules in recent years in an effort to speed up the game in America, but Ohtani said those changes aren't necessary.
"Honestly, I'm satisfied with everything," Ohtani said. "No need to make any drastic changes."