Dodgers News: Shohei Ohtani Progressing ‘Ahead Of Schedule’

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The buzz surrounding Shohei Ohtani at Camelback Ranch has been a focus of Spring Training as the Los Angeles Dodgers prepare for an early start to their regular season schedule.

After undergoing right elbow surgery last September and suffering an oblique injury that ended his 2023 season early, there were some questions about Ohtani recovering in time for Opening Day and how he would look coming back from two issues.

But shaking the rust off his swing early in camp hasn’t been much of a problem for the two-time MVP, who looks comfortable and has been impressing with his power in batting practice.

The Dodgers planned to be extra cautious with Ohtani heading into camp, and they still don’t want to rush him, but the progress he’s made has been considerable.

“I think early on it was more of the thought of giving him as much latitude and eliminate the kind of pressure to be ready for Opening Day and kind of let each day just happen, and we get to a point of when he’s ready, he’s ready,” manager Dave Roberts said. “But how each passing week has gone there just seems to be just really good strides.”

Ohtani is expected to get into Cactus League games at some point, and it may be sooner than anyone anticipated as he’s ahead of schedule with his rehab and build up.

“He’s a lot further along than I think any of us maybe not named Shohei would have expected,” Roberts added. “He’s worked really hard and 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 the answer. But it seems like every single day, he keeps getting better and feels really good.”

While Ohtani may end up playing in some Spring Training games, Roberts is not sure when that will take place as the Dodgers begin their Cactus League schedule on Thursday. “Haven’t had that conversation yet,” Roberts said.

“I’m going to start talking to him on what he likes as far as his expectations to get ready for a Major League season. Obviously, game at-bats are important, but if we can get at-bats on a backfield, we can do that too.

“But certainly, everyone wants to see him on a baseball field and playing, I get that. But the main thing is to get him ready for Opening Day and I think we have plenty of time to do that.”

Ohtani’s two-way prowess will be limited to just hitting this season, but he remains on track to be in the Dodgers lineup as the designated hitter on Opening Day.

The Dodgers start their season in Seoul, South Korea, against the San Diego Padres on March 20 and play another game the following day before their home opener on March 28 against the St. Louis Cardinals.

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