Dodgers' Roberts working with Ohtani on plate discipline

WASHINGTON -- Dave Roberts believes Shohei Ohtani can be even better with more plate discipline with runners in scoring position.

The Los Angeles Dodgers manager approached the two-time AL MVP about a week ago to discuss how Ohtani could better control the strike zone.

"I thought he was expanding a little bit more than he needed to," Roberts said Tuesday. "So, I just wanted to have a conversation with him."

Ohtani hit his 176th career home run Sunday, surpassing Hideki Matsui for the most in Major League Baseball among players born in Japan. He added another homer in Tuesday's 4-1 win against Washington, a 450-foot solo shot to the second deck in right field in his first visit to Nationals Park.

Ohtani's sixth homer of the season was the hardest hit of his career at 118.7 mph. It was also the hardest hit home run for a Dodgers player in the Statcast era, which began in 2015.

He's leading the major leagues in batting average, hits, doubles and total bases.

"There's only a few guys that can hit a ball like that," Roberts said after the game. "It was a topspin liner that reached the second deck. There's not too many guys that can do that. Shohei, we've talked about controlling the strike zone. When he does that, it is hard to get him out. It's lightning in that bat. Any time he swings the bat and makes contact, he can change the game."

Ohtani left the Los Angeles Angels and joined the Dodgers in December for a record 10-year, $700 million contract. The two-way star had elbow surgery in September and won't pitch this season.

Roberts has noticed Ohtani getting comfortable in his surroundings, acclimating with his new teammates and coaches.

"He is doing a great job with everyone," Roberts said. "The hitting coaches are kind of building a really good relationship and trust. I see him more [now]. Before you sort of just see him when he gets in the batter's box. So, he's around a lot more, which is a good thing, too."

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.