Shohei Ohtani felt he had done something special the moment a mammoth 450-foot home run cracked off his bat in the Los Angeles Dodgers' series-opening win against the Washington Nationals, the Japanese superstar said Wednesday.

The towering solo blast in the ninth inning of Tuesday's 4-1 victory was the hardest-hit home run of his Major League Baseball career, soaring to the second deck at Nationals Park with an exit velocity of 118.7 miles per hour, according to

Shohei Ohtani (far R) of the Los Angeles Dodgers speaks to reporters ahead of a baseball game against the Washington Nationals on April 24, 2024, at Nationals Park in Washington. (Kyodo) ==Kyodo

"It felt like one of the best of my life," Ohtani said during a media scrum ahead of Wednesday's meeting with the Nationals. "The feeling of the hit, the point of contact and the timing were all dead on."

The 2023 American League MVP has made an outstanding start to his first season with the Dodgers in spite of the unwanted attention brought by a scandal involving his former interpreter Ippei Mizuhara, who allegedly stole millions of dollars from Ohtani to pay off illegal gambling debts.

He recently took the record for most home runs by a Japanese-born MLB player, eclipsing Hideki Matsui's record of 175, and went on to reach 177 with his sixth of the season on Tuesday.

He currently leads the majors in batting average with .371, slugging percentage at .695, on-base plus slugging at 1.128 and extra-base hits with 21.

"I feel like I'm progressing. I think the rate of improvement naturally slows as you reach a higher level, but at the same time smaller details get better bit by bit," he said.

"Some things require change, but other areas you can improve through repetition."

Ohtani said he was "thankful" for the support of people around him during the tumult caused by Mizuhara, not least his wife Mamiko, whom he recently married.

"We haven't spent an entire day together just inside the house. We've been going out for walks," said the 29-year-old, who joked he "hopes she says she feels lonely" without him after not traveling on the Washington road trip.

The two-way star is not planning to pitch again until 2025 as he recovers from his second major elbow surgery last September. While he welcomes the additional recovery time as a result of staying off the mound, he is sticking to his regular routine as much as possible.

"It's easy to manage my physical condition, but it's not good to spend too long thinking about things," he said. "I'm spending the same amount of time as usual practicing and looking at data."

Asked about Rintaro Sasaki, the latest big prospect to emerge from Ohtani's alma mater, Iwate Prefecture's Hanamaki Higashi High School, Ohtani said he did not give the youngster any advice before his decision to skip Japanese pro baseball's draft and enroll at Stanford University.

"I think he made the best decision for himself, and that's also what guides my own decision-making," Ohtani said. "The most important thing is for an individual to be satisfied with their choices."

Ohtani also shared his thoughts on Japanese national basketball team star Yuta Watanabe's departure from the NBA's Memphis Grizzlies to play in Japan's B-League.

"I respect his decision," Ohtani said. "We were in the same school year, so I'm sad to see him leave, but I also want him to do his best."

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