Elly De La Cruz learning Japanese to talk to Shohei Ohtani at All-Star Game

Elly De La Cruz has not only reached his first MLB All-Star game in just over a year after his initial call-up to the Cincinnati Reds, but the 22-year-old has also been drawing praise for his improvement in his English on and off the field.

De La Cruz, a Dominican Republic native, has done his interviews primarily in English since the beginning of the 2024 season. His next step? 

“Learning Japanese to talk to Shohei [Ohtani],” he told reporters Sunday.

Ohtani, like De La Cruz and many other foreign-born MLB stars, speaks some English but mainly uses a translator when speaking to fans and media members. 

The Los Angeles Dodgers’ two-way superstar has continued to excel as a designated hitter in the first year of his record 10-year, $700 million contract while recovering from a torn UCL suffered last season that has prevented him from pitching this year. He will start for the National League at the DH spot in his fourth consecutive All-Star Game nod. 

De La Cruz is a reserve who will likely see action in the game in relief for one of the Philadelphia Phillies duo of Trea Turner and Alec Bohm, who will start for the NL at shortstop and third base, respectively.

As for whether De La Cruz will attempt to pull out some Japanese phrases when he gets a chance to speak with Ohtani, that’s still up in the air. “I don’t know if I’m gonna learn [in time], but I’m trying,” he said.

The 2024 MLB All-Star Game takes place at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas on July 16 (8 p.m. ET on FOX and the FOX sports app).

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Elly De La Cruz

Shohei Ohtani

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