Shohei Ohtani will make Los Angeles Dodgers debut Tuesday

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Monday, February 26, 2024

Shohei Ohtani will make his Los Angeles Dodgersspring training debut Tuesday against the Chicago White Sox, who share the facility at Camelback Ranch in Glendale, Arizona.

Ohtani will be the designated hitter as he plays in a game for the first time since signing a 10-year, $700 million deal in the offseason.

It also will mark Ohtani's first game action since undergoing reconstructive elbow surgery in September. While with the Los Angeles Angels, he tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow Aug. 23, ending his pitching season. He continued as a batter through Sept. 3 until he suffered an oblique strain. Ohtani will not pitch during the 2024 season.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts observed Ohtani closely Sunday as he faced live pitching from right-hander Jesse Hahn.

"He took three at-bats, and he looked good," Roberts told reporters. "I thought today was a good day for Shohei."

On Monday, the Dodgers announced another high-profile debut, telling reporters that right-hander Yoshinobu Yamamoto is scheduled to make his first Cactus League appearance Wednesday against the Texas Rangers. Yamamoto will wear a custom-made glove featuring the Japanese flag on the outside of the webbing.

Los Angeles gave the 25-year-old Yamamoto a $325 million, 12-year deal in December after he came over from Japan, where he won three straight Most Valuable Player awards in the Nippon Pacific League.

Ohtani won two unanimous American League MVP awards during six seasons with the Angels,from 2018 to 2023. And when the decision was made on the surgery last season, he led the American League with 44 home runs, and had 95 RBIs, 8 triples and 20 stolen bases. He was 10-5 with a 3.14 ERA in 23 starts for the Angels, as well, striking out 167 and walking 55 in 132 innings.

When the surgery was announced, in a statement released by the Angels, Ohtani's agent, Nez Balelo, stressed the longer term, especially with the star headed into free agency.

"The final decision and type of procedure was made with a heavy emphasis on the big picture," Balelo said. "Shohei wanted to make sure the direction taken gave him every opportunity to hit and pitch for many years to come."

The Dodgers are thankful, and his jump to Los Angeles' National League club has led to many fans flocking to the team's spring training complex.

Los Angeles is proceeding cautiously with Ohtani, who recently said he believes he will be ready when the Dodgers open the season against the San Diego Padres on March 20 and 21 in Seoul, South Korea.

Roberts said the organization isn't feeling pressure to have the Japanese-born Ohtani ready to play in the Seoul Series.

"I do think that having him play certainly adds to the attention of the series, of the games," Roberts said. "But most importantly is his health. So, if it lines up, great. And if it doesn't, then we'll still move on from there."

Despite hitting 171 homers and going 38-19 with a 3.01 ERA as a pitcher, Ohtani didn't play in a single playoff game with the Angels.

Information from Field Level Media and the Associated Press was used in this report.

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