Shohei Ohtani optimistic about recovery after mashing HRs in BP

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Tuesday, February 13, 2024

Los Angeles Dodgers designated hitter Shohei Ohtani took on-field batting practice for the first time with his new team Monday at Glendale, Arizona, and put on another of his patented shows.

According to multiple reports, Ohtani swung at 21 pitches and hit 10 of them over the fence in his first outside hitting work of spring training.

The batting practice session was the 29-year-old Ohtani's first on a field since he underwent surgery Sept. 19 to repair a UCL tear in his right elbow.

The two-time MVP is operating within a tight recovery window to be able to play in the Dodgers' season opener in South Korea on March 20 against the San Diego Padres. The Dodgers and Padres play two games in Seoul, then return to resume their regular-season schedules in the United States on March 28.

The Dodgers posted a video of Ohtani's BP, the results of which have him optimistic that he will be able to play on March 20.

"I was planning ... to swing on the lighter side," Ohtani told reporters Monday through an interpreter. "But I felt like the swings were feeling really good, which is a really good sign. I think it's trending towards me being ready for Opening Day."

Despite Ohtani being unable to pitch this season, the Dodgers signed him to a 10-year free agent contract for a record $700 million, with $680 million deferred to be paid out in installments from 2034 to 2043.

The last time Ohtani took batting practice on the field was in September with the Los Angeles Angels. Reduced to being only a hitter at that point, the two-way star eventually cut his season a month short to undergo surgery.

In six seasons with the Angels, Ohtani won the American League Rookie of the Year in 2018 and earned AL MVP honors in 2021 and 2023. Those awards came amid two elbow injuries that required surgery.

A career .274 hitter with the Angels, Ohtahi also posted a .922 OPS, including an MLB-best 1.066 last season. He has 171 home runs and 437 RBIs in his major league career, including 44 home runs and 95 RBIs in 2023.

As a pitcher, Ohtani is 38-19 in 86 career starts for the Angels, with a 3.01 ERA. He went 15-9 with a 2.33 ERA in 28 starts in 2022 and followed that by going 10-5 with a 3.14 ERA in 23 starts last season.

Ohtani is expected to return to being a two-way player for the Dodgers in 2025.

Field Level Media contributed to this story.

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