Shohei Ohtani ‘Trending Toward’ Being In Dodgers Lineup For Opening Day

Shohei Ohtani won his second American League MVP Award after a historic 2023 season that was cut short due to an oblique injury suffered in September. Prior to that, Ohtani had already undergone right elbow surgery.

The two-way star will be sidelined as a pitcher this year but is still expected to fulfill his duties as designated hitter in the Los Angeles Dodgers lineup.

Ohtani was among the first players to report to Camelback Ranch for Spring Training and started hitting against a pitching machine, but not at full velocity. He advanced to taking batting practice on the field Monday, which saw him slug 10 home runs over two rounds of swings.

“I feel really good overall,” Ohtani said through interpreter Ippei Mizuhara of his batting practice session. “I was swinging the bat really strong and there were some good results.”

Ohtani reiterated that he expects to be in the Dodgers lineup when the regular season begins in South Korea. “I was planning on swinging on the lighter side but the swings were feeling really good, which is a really good sign,” he began. “I think it’s trending toward me being ready for Opening Day.”

Ohtani also explained his most recent batting practice session on the field was to test his strength rather than work on his swing mechanics. “When I hit outside it’s more to check the strength and how strong I’m feeling. When I’m inside, it’s more technical stuff,” he said.

Ohtani rarely took on-field batting practice with the Los Angeles Angels, but said he will do so more often this spring to occasionally check on his health. “It’s not going to be every day, but it will be more often than in-season,” Ohtani began.

“I’ll be mostly doing my hitting work in the cage and if there’s something I need to check on, that’s when I’ll go outside.”

Shohei Ohtani fully recovered from oblique injury

In addition to the torn UCL he sustained last season, Ohtani dealt with a separate oblique injury that prevented him from appearing in another game after September 3.

The 29-year-old provided an update and said he is fully recovered from the oblique issue. “It was my first time hitting outside ever since I got that oblique injury, so I was being a little careful but overall I felt really good,” Ohtani explained.

“All the swings I’m taking in the cages feel good and strong, so I think we’re past the oblique injury.”

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