Shohei Ohtani Leading Off For Dodgers ‘A Perfect Default’

The Los Angeles Dodgers had to make some adjustments to their lineup and defense after Mookie Betts suffered a fractured hand and was placed on the injured list.

While Betts is an irreplaceable talent, the Dodgers have chosen to have Miguel Rojas take his place at shortstop and Shohei Ohtani lead off in manager Dave Roberts’ lineup.

That has paid off in spades as Ohtani’s swung a hot bat during his starts as the first hitter in the Dodgers lineup.

It solidified that Ohtani, one of the only players with leadoff experience on the Dodgers, is the perfect short-term replacement for Betts at that spot.

Roberts felt there was never another option and that the move carries plenty of benefits for Ohtani and for the entire team, according to Dennis Georgatos of the Southern California News Group:

“It was by default,” Roberts said when asked about the move before the game. “We had no one else. So, he’s a perfect default. He’s done it before. He’s done it before. And honestly, he’s swinging the bat well there, and he was starting to swing the batter better before that. So, he’s just doing what he needs to do as far as controlling the zone.”

Freddie Freeman — staying at the No. 3 spot in the lineup — was happy to see lead off homers continuing from Ohtani in Betts’ absence:

“It’s always nice to get a leadoff home run,” Freeman said. “Seeing a ball go over the fence to get it running, I think it kind of helped out.”

The L.A. Angels also experimented with Ohtani at the leadoff position for some time, and it is the two-way superstar’s third-most frequent lineup spot for his career.

The Dodgers should be able to weather the storm of not having Betts as long as Ohtani can have this level of success from the leadoff position.

Shohei Ohtani excited to play Angels

Ohtani is getting a first look at his former team this weekend with the Freeway Series at Dodger Stadium. Ohtani admitted that he still follows the team here and there and was an excitement facing them for the first time.

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