2024 Cincinnati Reds standout Elly De La Cruz was chosen to play in this year’s All-Star Game in Arlington, TX, and was asked by reporters which player he was looking forward to talking to: the other most exciting player in Major League Baseball.

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“I’m learning Japanese to try to talk to Shohei [Ohtani],” De La Cruz said with a smile. When a reporter asked if he was “for real”, De La Cruz replied, “I don’t know if I’m going to learn, but I’m trying.”

De La Cruz, a native of Sabana Grande de Boyá in the Dominican Republic, speaks Spanish as his first language. Still, the Reds shortstop conducted his press conference on the eve of Opening Day exclusively in English for the first time after using an interpreter for the ’23 season. “It’s so important to me because now you guys understand what I say, and it’s important to the fans to understand me and me understand the fans,” De La Cruz said at the time. “I put a lot of work on my English to talk with you guys, and I think I’m doing a good job.”


Now, the Reds’ franchise stolen base leader is dedicating that same energy to learning Japanese to talk with Ohtani, a honorable gesture of brotherhood among international players.

Ohtani can speak English but is more comfortable conversing in Japanese.

Ohtani and De La Cruz are two of the most exciting MLB players this season, with the Reds shortstop belting 15 home runs to lead the Reds and his 45 stolen bases to lead all of MLB. Meanwhile, Ohtani, in his first season in Los Angeles, is making a run at his third MVP award, having compiled a .314/.399/.637 slash line with 28 home runs, 65 RBI, 72 runs scored, and 20 stolen bases.