Shohei Ohtani shines in spring debut for Dodgers


Baseball superstar Shohei Ohtani debuted in a big way on Tuesday by hitting a home run during the Los Angeles Dodgers’ spring training game against the Chicago White Sox.

Explosive debut: Ohtani batted second during Tuesday’s game at Camelback Ranch in Arizona after Mookie Betts and before Freddie Freeman, all three of whom are collectively referred to by many as the Dodgers’ “Big 3,” with the Japanese baseball phenom playing the position of designated hitter (DH).

The two-time unanimous American League MVP hit an explosive two-run homer during the Dodgers-White Sox game’s fifth inning at his first Cactus League, another term for spring training, in 2024. The feat was Ohtani’s final at-bat that day.

Citing the readings, the Los Angeles Times reported that Ohtani’s home run traveled 377 feet (114.9 meters) at a speed of 102 miles per hour (164.1 kilometers per hour). The Dodgers won the game 9-6.

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What they’re saying: Dodgers manager Dave Roberts praised Ohtani’s hitting prowess after the game, telling reporters, “You know, with Ohtani, he’s so special that he really didn’t (make solid contact) but he has so much margin for error that he hits a fly ball and it happens to go out of the ballpark.”

Meanwhile, Ohtani, speaking through his interpreter Ippei Mizuhara, said the game was “a big step” for him and that the big thing for him was that he finished the match “without any problems.”

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Just making sure: Besides serving as the designated hitter during the spring training game, Ohtani told Japanese media that he also brought with him his outfielder gloves in case the team needs him for the position this season, to which Roberts said was unnecessary.

“I don’t see that happening,” Roberts said. “We’ve constructed our roster with the fact that we have plenty of outfield depth and to have him be our DH – until I hear otherwise, the only focus for me is to have him DH.”

What’s next: A two-way superstar in the MLB, Ohtani will only be playing as the Dodgers’ designated hitter when the team faces the San Diego Padres during the season opener in South Korea on March 20, due to ongoing recovery from elbow surgery. He is expected to fully return in 2025.

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