Dodgers’ Shohei Ohtani to begin throwing program

Updated:

Los Angeles Dodgers two-way star Shohei Ohtani will begin a throwing program that could allow him to be more than just a designated hitter this season.

Manager Dave Roberts made the announcement on Monday in Seoul, South Korea, where the Dodgers will open the season with games against the San Diego Padres on Wednesday and Thursday.

Ohtani, who signed a record $700 million contract with the Dodgers in December, will not pitch this season following surgery on his right elbow. But there’s now at least a chance he could play somewhere defensively in addition to his DH duties.

“Shohei this year is primarily going to be the designated hitter,” Roberts said. “Once we get back to the States, he is going to start his throwing program, which he hasn’t started yet. We’ll see how that progression goes. If his arm is healthy enough, we’ll have that conversation in the field. I do know he’s not going to pitch this year.”

Ohtani, 29, won his second American League Most Valuable Player award in 2023 to wrap up a six-year stint with the Los Angeles Angels. The right-hander was 10-5 with a 3.14 ERA in 23 starts and batted .304 with 44 homers and 95 RBIs in 135 games.

Ohtani has only played 8 1/3 innings in the outfield in the majors, with six appearances in right field and one in left and none since 2021.