- Ohtani signed with the Dodgers for 10 years and $700 million this offseason
- He will be unable to pitch and will be the team’s designated hitter this season
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Shohei Ohtani insists he is ‘very confident’ he will be ready in time for the Los Angeles Dodgers’ first game of the new season despite recently undergoing more surgery on his elbow.
Ohtani is gearing up for his first season with the Dodgers after signing a huge 10-year, $700million deal in LA back in December, after leaving city rivals the Angels upon the expiry of his contract.
The Dodgers and their star recruit are set to begin their season on March 20 against the San Diego Padres, though after recently undergoing the second Tommy John surgery (elbow) of his career it was unclear whether Ohtani would be ready in time.
However, while he is only expected to be able to hit for the meantime, the two-way sensation expects to be ready for that opener against the Padres.
‘Rehab has been going really well,’ said Ohtani. ‘I’m very confident we’re right on schedule. We’re not ahead and we’re not behind.’
Shohei Ohtani is ‘very confident’ he will be ready for the Dodgers’ first game of the new season
Ohtani is still recovering from the second Tommy John surgery of his career and won’t pitch
Dodgers fans were able to get their first looks at Ohtani in person during the team’s Dodgerfest
Once Ohtani gets to spring training in Arizona this month, he’ll progress to taking cuts against a pitching machine.
Last season he slashed .304/.412/.654 to go along with 44 home runs, 95 RBI and 20 stolen bases in 135 games before he was shut down due to injury.
The Dodgers made the biggest move of the offseason when they signed Ohtani to an unbelievable deal worth $70m per year this summer, despite the fact he would have to spend the offseason rehabbing from elbow surgery.
‘The way we talk about Babe Ruth,’ first baseman Freddie Freeman said, ‘that’s who Shohei is.’
Dodgers fans were able to get their first in-person glimpses of their modern-day Babe Ruth in the team’s colors on Saturday as well.
And Dodgers fans embraced him with screams. Men, women and children donned his new jersey at ‘DodgerFest’, where fans were charged – $10 each – for the first time to get in.
Concession stands were open, music blared, the team store was loaded with shoppers, and fans crowded the field to get close to the stage where manager Dave Roberts and about 30 players talked up the 2024 season.