Nootbaar collects two hits, teaches Ohtani to grind the pepper as Team Japan wins exhibition

St. Louis Cardinals' Lars Nootbaar celebrates after hitting a walk-off single to score Nolan...
St. Louis Cardinals' Lars Nootbaar celebrates after hitting a walk-off single to score Nolan Arenado during the ninth inning in the first game of a baseball doubleheader against the Chicago Cubs Thursday, Aug. 4, 2022, in St. Louis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson)(Jeff Roberson | AP)
Published: Mar. 6, 2023 at 11:54 AM CST
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ST. LOUIS, Mo. (KMOV) - Already a local sensation in St. Louis, it now appears Lars Nootbaar has taken his pepper-grinding ways to an international stage.

The Cardinals outfielder, who carries Japanese ancestry on his mother’s side, is representing the country for Team Japan in this spring’s World Baseball Classic. Unsurprisingly for those who have seen Noot in action with St. Louis over the past couple of years, it hasn’t taken him long to get acclimated with his new teammates.

In an exhibition win over the Hanshin Tigers on Monday, Nootbaar went 2-for-3 at the plate with an RBI and a run scored. Naturally, he made sure to grind some pepper to commemorate his contributions to the win.

The pepper trail goes even farther than that, as Nootbaar has evidently gotten one of MLB’s biggest superstars on board with the routine. According to an report, Japanese sensation and Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani told Nootbaar he would roll with whatever the Cardinals outfielder came up with to celebrate their hits with Team Japan.

Nootbaar taught Ohtani about grinding the pepper before the game, and sure enough, Ohtani broke out the celly as he crossed home plate after one of his two home runs on the day.

Nootbaar, Ohtani and the rest of Team Japan will take on China on March 9 at 4:00 a.m. CT.