Baseball Star Ohtani Opts Out of Home Run Derby Amid Rehab Progression

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In the world of baseball, Shohei Ohtani, the Japanese superstar, has certainly made a name for himself with an impressive tally of 27 homers, placing him second in the major leagues this season. However, despite his remarkable achievements and popularity among fans, Ohtani has announced that he will not be stepping up to the plate in the upcoming Home Run Derby scheduled for July 15.

Ohtani’s decision follows a mild disappointment last year when he made an early exit in the first round of the competition at Coors Field in Denver. This year, the baseball world had set its sights on the anticipated event at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas.

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On Tuesday night, in a statement translated by his interpreter, Ohtani explained, “I’m in the middle of my rehab progression, so it’s not going to look like I’ll be participating.” His decision underlines his current focus – rehabilitating from a recovering elbow ligament that keeps him limited to batting, not pitching, for the Los Angeles Dodgers this season.

The Dodgers signed Ohtani up on a whopping $700 million, 10-year contract last December, after he underwent surgery in September. Dodgers manager, Dave Roberts, was appreciative of Ohtani’s commitment to his health and the team. “He signed up here to help us win a championship and nothing should get in the way of that,” said Roberts.

While Ohtani won’t be participating in the derby, he’s not letting his baseball prowess fade. He demonstrated his batting prowess in the seventh inning of Tuesday night’s game against the Arizona Diamondbacks. He scored with a blistering two-run shot that soared 433 feet to the right-center, contributing to the Dodgers’ 6-5 victory.

For the season, he ranks second to New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge, with a major league-leading 32 homers. His performance against the Diamondbacks was stellar too: a 3 for 5 with two runs and two RBIs. Since Mookie Betts broke his hand on June 16, Ohtani’s batting average in the leadoff spot has been a remarkable .380.

Roberts emphasized that Ohtani’s decision was more about safeguarding his rehab process than a worry about incurring a new injury. The manager explained, “When you’re playing every day alongside the rehab it’s very regimented, so when you have an outlier situation as far as a Home Run Derby, it’s something that one is prepared for.”

Last year, Ohtani set a notable record in the Derby, producing six homers of at least 500 feet. He also achieved a milestone in baseball history, becoming the first player to earn selection as an All-Star as both a position player and a pitcher in 2021 and 2022 while with the Los Angeles Angels.

As Roberts puts it, Ohtani carries the game of baseball not alone but on a daily basis. Thus, fans will be waiting eagerly to see him return to full strength and continue his explosive performances on the baseball diamond.

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Melinda Cochrane is a poet, teacher and fiction author. She is also the editor and publisher of The Inspired Heart, a collection of international writers. Melinda also runs a publishing company, Melinda Cochrane International books for aspiring writers, based out Montreal, Quebec. Her publication credits include: The art of poetic inquiry, (Backalong Books), a novella, Desperate Freedom, (Brian Wrixon Books Canada), and 2 collections of poetry; The Man Who Stole Father’s Boat, (Backalong Books), and She’s an Island Poet, Desperate Freedom was on the bestseller's list for one week, and The Man Who Stole Father’s Boat is one of hope and encouragement for all those living in the social welfare system. She’s been published in online magazines such as, (regular writer for) ‘Life as a Human’, and Shannon Grissom’s magazine.