Shohei Ohtani's spring training debut on hold, Dodgers say

Los Angeles Dodgers slugger Shohei Ohtani is recovering from elbow surgery. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI
1 of 5 | Los Angeles Dodgers slugger Shohei Ohtani is recovering from elbow surgery. File Photo by Jim Ruymen/UPI | License Photo

Feb. 19 (UPI) -- Two-time MVP Shohei Ohtani, who is recovering from elbow surgery. will not play in the Los Angeles Dodgers' spring training opener, manager Dave Roberts announced.

Roberts spoke about the decision when he met with reporters over the weekend at Camelback Ranch in Phoenix. The Dodgers' full roster reported Wednesday to their spring training facility.


They will face the San Diego Padres in their spring training opener Thursday in Peoria, Ariz.

"Certainly, everyone wants to see him on a baseball field and playing, I get that," Roberts said. "But the main thing is to get him ready for opening day. We have plenty of time to do that."

Ohtani, who claimed his second MVP award last year, appeared in 135 games in 2023. The hitting-and-pitching phenom had surgery on his right pitching elbow Sept. 19. He missed the Los Angeles Angels' final 25 games.

Dr. Neal ElAttrache, who performed the elbow surgery, said Ohtani, who signed with the Dodgers in December, will be "ready to hit without any restrictions" by opening day. He will be able to resume pitching in 2025.


Last week, Ohtani participated in his first batting practice with the Dodgers, with a coach pitching. He hit several balls over the fence at the spring training complex.

"He's a lot further along than I think any of us -- maybe not named Shohei -- would have expected," Roberts said. "He's worked really hard, very diligent in his work, so he's ahead of schedule.

"What that means as far as when he's going to play in a Cactus League [spring training] game, I don't know that answer. But it just seems like every single day, he keeps [getting] better and feels really good."

Ohtani, 29, appeared in at least 73% of the Angels' games in each of his final four seasons. He missed just 13 games total between his 2021 and 2022 campaigns, before his 27-game hiatus in 2023.

The three-time All-Star hit a career-best .304 with an American League-high 44 home runs in 135 games last season. He also went 10-5 with a 3.14 ERA in 23 starts as the Angels' top pitcher.

The Dodgers will take a break from spring training to face the Padres in the first game of the MLB regular season on March 20 in Seoul.


They will meet the Padres for their second game the next day in South Korea's capital city. They will resume spring training March 24 to 26.

The Dodgers and Padres will then participate in a more traditional opening day, along with MLB's other 28 teams, on March 28.

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