Shohei Ohtani defers question about his wife, Japanese basketball player Mamiko Tanaka

Dodgers superstar Shohei Ohtani surprised most everyone when he announced Feb. 29 on Instagram that he had gotten married.

He provided no other details, not even his wife’s name, on social media and when he spoke to reporters later that day at spring training in Phoenix.

“She’s a normal Japanese woman,” he said at the time.

The biggest hint of her identity arrived Thursday morning as the Dodgers prepared to leave for their season-opening series against the San Diego Padres in Seoul, Korea, next week. Ohtani posted a group photo on his Instagram stories that featured him and a woman standing together. Multiple media outlets identified the woman as Japanese basketball player Mamiko Tanaka, and CNN reported that the Dodgers had confirmed she was his wife.

The Dodgers did not respond to questions from The Times for this article.

Ohtani was asked during his first news conference in South Korea on Saturday what he liked most about his wife. He laughed and responded via translator, “I have one job to focus on and it’s baseball.”

Tanaka’s former basketball team provided the clearest confirmation the woman accompanying Ohtani on the flight to Seoul was his wife.

The 5-foot-11 Tanaka, 27, played power forward/center for the Fujitsu Red Wave in the Women’s Japan Basketball League for four seasons, from 2019 to 2023. She had her best season in 2022-23, with career highs in games played (28), minutes per game (24), points per game (7.8) and rebounds per game (6).

She also represented Japan at the 2012 FIBA U17 world championships and attended Tokyo’s Waseda University.

Fujitsu, the parent company of her former team, released this statement in Japanese that read: “We wish to celebrate from the bottom of our hearts the new journey embarked by Mamiko Tanaka, who provided joy to many people through her performances with the Fujitsu Red Wave. We pray this new stage of life will be wonderful for the two of them.”

The news that Tanaka was the mystery woman who married Ohtani was a major story among Japanese and Korean media outlets.

At spring training on Feb. 29, Ohtani told reporters that he and his new wife had known each other for three to four years and became engaged last year. He also said she was with him for spring training in Arizona this year.

Ohtani said he had delayed announcing the update to his marital status because of undisclosed paperwork issues but was sure to relay the big news before start of the season to avoid any distractions.

Columnist Dylan Hernández contributed to this report.

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