Shohei Ohtani recovery 'on schedule,' 'confident' for opener

Shohei Ohtani recovery ‘on schedule,’ ‘confident’ for opener

/ 04:06 PM February 04, 2024

Shohei Ohtani Dodgers MLB

Los Angeles Dodgers’ Shohei Ohtani smiles while talking to the media at Dodger Stadium during the DodgerFest baseball event Saturday, Feb. 3, 2024, in Los Angeles Calif. (AP Photo/Richard Vogel)

Japanese star slugger and pitcher Shohei Ohtani said Saturday he’s confident he will be ready for the Los Angeles Dodgers’ Major League Baseball season opener next month in South Korea.

Ohtani, the 29-year-old two-time American League Most Valuable Player signed, a 10-year deal with the Dodgers in December after spending six seasons with the Los Angeles Angels.

While he is known for pitching and batting, he won’t take the mound in the 2024 campaign after right elbow surgery, even though he declared he is “very confident” he will be the Dodgers’ designated hitter when they open against San Diego in Seoul on March 20.

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“We’re right on schedule,” Ohtani said through a translator. “We’re not ahead. We’re not behind. We’re right on schedule. As long as there are no setbacks going forward, I’ll be ready.”

Ohtani was been working out at Dodger Stadium but when pre-season training camp opens next week in Arizona he will take batting practice off a pitching machine and progress his elbow to face rival pitchers.

He also wants to begin his work toward pitching again in 2025.

“I’m going to start my throwing program when I get to Arizona and go from there,” Ohtani said. “The main focus will be on hitting throughout the year, and we’re going to try to ease into the pitching program throughout the year.”

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Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said he expects Ohtani will be third in the batting order behind Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman — a leadoff trio of past MVP winners.

“It’s just having a conversation with those guys and I don’t think we’re going to nail it from the outset,” Roberts said. “It might happen, but I want Mookie, Freddie and Shohei to be part of the conversation.”

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