The 2019 Home Run Derby is just two weeks away, which is close enough for every home run hitter in baseball to be asked if they’re interested in participating. Fans usually hear a lot of “I’d rather not,” or “no thank you” from players, but Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels isn’t one of them. When he was asked about the Home Run Derby, he gave the answer fans always hope to hear.
“I haven’t heard anything yet, but if I am asked, I’d be honored to compete in it,” Ohtani told reporters Sunday (via the Orange County Register) through his interpreter. “We haven’t discussed anything. But if they do ask me, we’ll have to discuss it internally with the medical staff. Of course, I’d love to play in it, but it’s not only my decision. We have to see what the team says.”
Ohtani recovering from Tommy John surgery
Ohtani may want to compete, but he knows his health comes first. He’s currently recovering from Tommy John surgery on his right arm, which is why he’s been limited to just hitting this season instead of hitting and pitching.
Ohtani’s participation would need to be looked at and discussed by the Angels’ doctors and specialists, as well as the GM. Would it put his surgically repaired ligament in danger? Could swinging the bat so much and with so much force do any damage?
Either way, asking him is a no-brainer. Ohtani has incredible power — his homers during batting practice are legendary — but he also has incredible fame. While most baseball fans in the U.S. know him, in Japan he’s a huge star. Featuring him in the Home Run Derby would open up that program to an eager audience on the other side of the world.
While Ohtani’s numbers this year aren’t otherworldly, he’s hitting .276/.341/.493 with nine home runs over 41 games after starting the season late. And no matter what his numbers are, you know he can take some meaty BP cookies right over the plate and yank them into another hemisphere. That’s exactly what you want in a Home Run Derby competitor, so won’t someone ask him already?
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