Shohei Ohtani will make one preseason Cactus League start for the Los Angeles Angels before heading to Japan on March 1 for the World Baseball Classic, Angels general manager Perry Minasian said Saturday.

Ohtani will therefore not join the Japanese national team in Miyazaki for its Feb. 17-27 training camp in preparation for its WBC campaign starting March 9 against China at Tokyo Dome.

The two-way star will not be under any restrictions as a starting pitcher or batter at the WBC, according to Minasian, who also expressed confidence the Angels can sign him to a new deal when he enters free agency after the upcoming season.

"I think there's a respect level here," Minasian said. "I think that was one of the reasons why he chose to play here. We've been able to agree on two deals over the last two years, which is not easy to do."

Los Angeles Angels general manager Perry Minasian speaks to the media in Anaheim, California, on Feb. 4, 2023. (Kyodo)

The Angels signed Ohtani to a two-year deal worth a reported $8.5 million before the 2021 season and a one-year deal worth a record $30 million for 2023, avoiding arbitration each time.

"That's not something that happens too often, especially with a player of his caliber," Minasian said. "So, there's a respect and trust level there that I don't think will change. And I think the relationship is outstanding."

Club owner Arte Moreno recently said he would retain ownership of the Angels after exploring a possible sale, and Minasian believes he will do everything he can to keep Ohtani in Anaheim long-term.

"He's obviously invested in this club throughout his whole ownership," Minasian said of Moreno. "Knowing the individual and knowing how much he wants to win, I don't believe anything is out of the realm of possibility."

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