Shohei Ohtani Hits 2-Run Homer In First Exhibition Game With Los Angeles Dodgers


(MENAFN- The Peninsula) AP

Glendale, Arizona: Shohei Ohtani needed just three exhibition at-bats to show what a $700 million man can do for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The Japanese star hit a two-run homer in his first game wearing Dodger blue on Tuesday, working a full count in the fifth inning before an opposite-field shot off Dominic Leone that just cleared the left-field wall.
Shohei Ohtani #17 of the Los Angeles Dodgers looks on in the dugout during a game against the Chicago White Sox at Camelback Ranch on February 27, 2024 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

"Definitely felt good at the plate, felt better each time,” Ohtani said through a translator. "We're trending in the right direction.”

Ohtani was hitless in his first two plate appearances, striking out on four pitches in the first inning and hitting a hard grounder into a double play in the third.

The two-time Most Valuable Player received a standing ovation before his first at-bat at Camelback Ranch, where dozens of fans wore his No. 17 jersey and cheered his every move.

The Dodgers - already one of MLB's premier franchises - have become even more popular after spending more than $1 billion to sign Ohtani and fellow Japanese pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto.
Shohei Ohtani #17 celebrates with Freddie Freeman #5 of the Los Angeles Dodgers after hitting a two-run home run in the fifth inning inning during a game against the Chicago White Sox at Camelback Ranch on February 27, 2024 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

"Just seeing Shohei in the lineup makes us a lot better,” manager Dave Roberts said before the game. "There's been a lot of anticipation, so we're excited.”
Yamamoto is expected to make his spring training debut on Wednesday.

Shohei Ohtani #17 of the Los Angeles Dodgers looks on in the dugout during a game against the Chicago White Sox at Camelback Ranch on February 27, 2024 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

Ohtani's first full swing on Tuesday wasn't exactly one of the memories. He missed the ball, his helmet tumbled off his head and it took a few seconds to gather himself before returning to the batter's box.

But he corrected that momentary awkwardness in a hurry, showing the power that's helped him hit 124 homers over the past three seasons. The crowd roared when Ohtani connected and the cheers grew louder as the ball slowly drifted over the left-field wall.

"I thought I hit it a little too high, but maybe the Arizona weather factored in a little,” Ohtani said.

Ohtani was in the second spot of the lineup against the Chicago White Sox, sandwiched between leadoff hitter Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman.

Shohei Ohtani #17 of the Los Angeles Dodgers looks on in the dugout during a game against the Chicago White Sox at Camelback Ranch on February 27, 2024 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen / GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA / Getty Images via AFP)

Roberts said all three stars were receptive to the Betts-Ohtani-Freeman lineup construction. The manager added that having Ohtani at the No. 2 spot wasn't "set in stone,” but it's something he wants to try for a while during spring training.

"I feel that having Shohei hitting in front of Freddie gives Shohei a lot of protection,” Roberts said.

It was Ohtani's first spring training game since signing a record $700 million, 10-year contract - and first since right elbow surgery in September that will keep the two-time MVP from pitching this year. He was the designated hitter, a role he's expected to fill all season.

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