Roberts: Ohtani’s rehab makes HR Derby a risk

todayJuly 1, 2024 11

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Jun 26, 2024, 08:21 PM ET

As one of the game’s most feared sluggers, Shohei Ohtani‘s potential participation in the Home Run Derby is an annual topic of discussion heading into the All-Star break.

But Los Angeles Dodgers manager Dave Roberts isn’t so sure that would be a good idea this season.

Roberts told reporters Wednesday that he would “probably not” want Ohtani to compete in the Derby because of the physical exertion of the event, which would require Ohtani to endure “rounds and rounds” of swings.

He expressed concern that the workload would present a risk because of Ohtani’s rehabilitation from Tommy John surgery.

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“The one side of it, for him to be in the Home Run Derby, it’s great for baseball, clearly,” Roberts said before Wednesday night’s 4-0 win over the Chicago White Sox. “The other side of it, on the manager of the Dodgers side of it, you’re trying to be more cautious and appreciating the fact that there’s a lot more swings, higher intensity, you know, going through the rehab process with his elbow.”

Ohtani underwent right elbow surgery in September 2023 as a member of the Los Angeles Angels and is limited to hitting this season. He hit his NL-leading 25th home run Wednesday, a 437-foot drive that marked his third leadoff blast of the season, and also has an MLB-best .322 batting average.

When asked about the Derby following Tuesday night’s 4-3 win over the White Sox, Ohtani said that he has “feelings of wanting to do it” but would need the approval of his doctors and trainers as well as the team. A day later, he reiterated his thoughts.

“It hasn’t really changed much since yesterday,” Ohtani said after Wednesday’s win. “It’s something I have to talk to a lot of people about and make a decision.”

Roberts said that he and Ohtani would have a discussion about the Derby and how it might affect his rehabilitation. He acknowledged that he would ultimately defer to Ohtani.

“I don’t ever want to be the guy that says you can’t do it, because I wouldn’t want to have somebody tell me I couldn’t do it,” Roberts said. “But the surgery adds a different component.”

Roberts added: “No one can argue that a manager wouldn’t want their player to swing as hard as he can for essentially 45 minutes when [that player] is supposed to be on a break, right? But the other side is, obviously, he’s the biggest star in the game, and it makes [the Derby] more attractive.

“So I think whatever he decides, I’ll support it.”

Ohtani has competed in the Home Run Derby just once in his career, in 2021, when he lost to Juan Soto in a memorable swing off in the first round.

This year’s Home Run Derby will take place at Globe Life Field in Texas on July 15, one day before the All-Star Game.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.

Written by: Ag Entertainment

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