Baseball superstar Ohtani and his wife arrive in South Korea for Dodgers-Padres MLB opener

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SEOUL, South Korea — SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — Shohei Ohtani and his wife arrived in South Korea with his Los Angeles Dodgers teammates on Friday ahead of their season-opening games with the San Diego Padres next week.

Ohtani, wearing a black training suit and a cap backwards, was the first Dodgers player who showed up at the arrival gate of Incheon international airport, west of Seoul. His wife, Mamiko Tanaka, walked several steps behind him.

As a crowd of fans, many wearing Dodgers jerseys, shouted his name and cheering slogans, Ohtani briefly waved his hand but didn’t say anything before he entered a limousine bus with his wife. Fans held placards that read like “GOATANI (Ohtani is Greatest Of All Time) GO” and “Baseball genius Ohtani.”

Before departing for South Korea, Ohtani, a two-way Japanese phenomenon, revealed the identify of his wife by posting a photo of him and Tanaka, an ex-professional basketball player, on his Instagram account. Japanese media had already speculated that Ohtani’s wife was likely Tanaka.

Tanaka, 27, played for the Fujitsu Red Wave in the Women’s Japan Basketball League from 2019-23.

In late February, Ohtani, 29, said in his Instagram post that he was married to “a normal Japanese woman” that he had known for three to four years. But he didn’t say exactly who his wife was.

In Ohtani’s Instagram post, he was photographed with Tanaka in front of an airplane alongside his teammate Yoshinobu Yamamoto. The Dodgers posted a photo of the Ohtani-Tanaka couple on the team’s X (formerly Twitter) account next to one of Mookie Betts and his wife.

The upcoming Dodgers-Padres games will be Ohtani’s debut with the Dodgers. In December, Ohtani, who was formerly with the Los Angeles Angels, signed a record $700 million, 10-year contract to join the Dodgers.

Ohtani underwent surgery on his right elbow last September and will not pitch this season. He will be used as a designated hitter and there is a possibility he could play in the field.

Social media in Japan and South Korea are abuzz with messages talking about Ohtani and his wife.

“So impressed to see how Ohtani opened up about his new bride, Mamiko Tanaka,” one X user said in Japanese.

“Ohtani’s wife is really beautiful. They are both made for each other,” one X user said in Korean. Another Korean message said that “their future kid will be a super athlete.”

The Padres arrived earlier Friday. The two-game series in Seoul’s Gocheok Sky Dome on March 20-21 will be the first Major League Baseball regular-season games in South Korea.

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Associated Press writer Jiwon Song contributed to this report.

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AP MLB: https://apnews.com/hub/mlb

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