Shohei Ohtani: Elbow Recovery & Swing ‘Trending In The Right Direction’

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Shohei Ohtani made his highly anticipated Cactus League debut with the Los Angeles Dodgers on Tuesday and gave the fans at Camelback Ranch plenty to cheer for.

After striking out in his first at-bat, the two-time American League MVP evened the score by driving in a run on a ground-ball double play in the third inning.

Then in the fifth with the Dodgers still trailing the Chicago White, Ohtani went the other way for a two-run homer that cut their deficit to 4-3

Ohtani finished 1-for-3 with three RBI in his Dodgers Spring Training debut. “Definitely a big first step,” he said after the game through interpreter Ippei Mizuhara. “The biggest thing is I was able to finish off the game without any problems.”

While it was an exciting performance, perhaps even more encouraging for the Dodgers is that Ohtani continues to feel healthy after separate elbow and oblique injuries shortened his 2023 season.

“I definitely feel good at the plate,” Ohtani said. “I felt better each time I got up, so it’s trending in the right direction.”

Ohtani previously estimated that he would need to take 50 at-bats in order to prepare for the regular season, which could come in Cactus League play, simulated games, live batting practice or taking swings inside the Dodgers’ new indoor hitting cages at Camelback Ranch.

Ohtani has maintained that he will be in the Dodgers lineup for their Opening Day matchup against the San Diego Padres in South Korea.

Shohei Ohtani second in Dodgers lineup

Ohtani’s first game with the Dodgers saw him batting second, placed between leadoff hitter Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman in the three-hole.

Freeman has spent the bulk of his first two seasons with the Dodgers batting second in the lineup, but is not concerned about potentially hitting third this year.

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