Advertisement

Dodgers star Shohei Ohtani won’t play in spring training opener, but ‘he’s ahead of schedule’ in recovery

Shohei Ohtani won’t play in the Dodgers’ spring training game against the Padres on Thursday

While things are apparently going well at spring training, Shohei Ohtani isn’t ready to take the field just yet.

Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts confirmed Sunday that Ohtani won’t play in the team's spring training opener against the San Diego Padres on Thursday, according to The Associated Press. Ohtani didn’t participate in live batting practice Sunday, either, as he’s still recovering from elbow surgery.

“He’s a lot further along than I think any of us — maybe not named Shohei — would have expected,” Roberts said Saturday, via The Associated Press. “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 game, I don’t know that answer. But it just seems like every single day, he keeps getting better and feels real good.”

Ohtani joined the Dodgers in December, signing a record 10-year, $700 million deal. He underwent surgery to repair the torn UCL in his pitching elbow in September, however, and he’s not expected to pitch again until the 2025 season.

Shohei Ohtani underwent elbow surgery in September and is working to be ready for the Dodgers’ season opener on March 20 in South Korea. (Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)
Shohei Ohtani underwent elbow surgery in September and is working to be ready for the Dodgers’ season opener on March 20 in South Korea. (Robert Gauthier/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images)

The 29-year-old is planning to play as the Dodgers’ designated hitter this season. He’s attempting to be ready for the season opener against the Padres on March 20 in South Korea, too.

He said earlier this month that he felt he was “already swinging close to 100 percent,” and he backed that up with a wild batting practice last week, reportedly hitting 10 home runs on just 21 swings.

Ohtani, who spent his first six years in MLB with the Los Angeles Angels, had 44 home runs and 95 RBI last season, both of which were just shy of his career highs. The two-time MVP has hit .274 in his career, and he had a league-best 1.055 OPS last season.

If Ohtani isn’t ready for the Dodgers’ two games in South Korea, which are nearly one month away, the team resumes its schedule March 28 in the United States.