GLENDALE, Ariz. — Dodgers manager Dave Roberts and president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman said Shohei Ohtani impressed them with the “intentional” approach he takes to coaching.
“Obviously we knew his work ethic was top-notch,” Friedman said. “But to see how deliberate everything he does is, our training staff said they’ve never seen a guy come back from surgery with so much intention in every single thing he does . …Most guys get in the cage and swing without thinking. He does his whole pre-pitch routine between every throw. How intentional every single thing he does is – whether it’s in the weight room, on the pitch – and you can’t really appreciate it fully until you’ve seen it.
The Dodgers saw him on the field for the first time this spring on Monday. Ohtani has been hitting in the batting cages for a week now, but he took batting practice in the field for the first time since his oblique injury ended his 2023 season with the Angels on September 4.
“I felt really good overall. Every swing became really strong with good results,” Ohtani said through his interpreter.
“It was my first time hitting outside since I suffered an oblique injury, so I was a little cautious. Overall, I felt really good.
Ohtani said there was a different intention behind his work when he took batting practice in the cage or on the field.
“When I hit outside, it’s more to check my strength and my strength,” he said. “Inside, it’s more technical.”
In this case, Monday’s outdoor session ticked the right boxes. Ohtani took 21 swings in two rounds against game planning coach JT Watkins. Ten of them cleared the fences – several by a wide margin.
“I was planning to… move to the lighter side,” Ohtani said. “But I felt like the swings were really good, which is a really good sign. I think I tend to be ready for opening day.
Wow, Shohei. 😳 pic.twitter.com/ifYb2cHVzY
– Los Angeles Dodgers (@Dodgers) February 12, 2024
THE MOOKIE IS COMING
Mookie Betts was among the position players in camp Monday. The first full team practice is scheduled for Wednesday.
Betts was asked about the Dodgers’ big offseason moves and the high expectations that came with them.
“You gotta go play, man,” he said. “We’ve had some really good teams here and guys in their prime here, but we didn’t get it done. Whatever team we make, we have to go play. I have to introduce myself. I went 0 for 11 (in the Arizona Diamondbacks’ NL Division Series sweep last fall) and we had a really good team last year. So if I don’t show up, it doesn’t matter. Not just me, but all of us. If we don’t show up, we’re going to lose. So we have to go play.
Right-hander Joe Kelly and catcher Will Smith returned to camp Monday after being out for personal reasons over the weekend.
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