Shohei Ohtani is making his unofficial Los Angeles Dodgers debut on Tuesday.

The Dodgers’ superstar slugger will play in Tuesday’s Cactus League spring training game against the Chicago White Sox, the team announced Sunday. It’ll mark the first time that Ohtani will suit up for the Dodgers in the exhibition season.

Tuesday could serve as just one of the few games that the highest-paid player in baseball plays ahead of the regular season. Ohtani shared with reporters earlier in the week that he wants to record 50 at-bats before the start of the regular season, but he will count his live batting practice at-bats as part of that count.

“As long as my body is feeling good and reacting the right way the next day, then we should be good,” Ohtani told reporters through his interpreter on Wednesday. 

Ohtani has sat out the Dodgers’ first four Cactus League games and will miss his fifth on Friday. He sparingly played in spring training last season, appearing in just five Cactus League games in his last year with the Los Angeles Angels. Prior to 2023, Ohtani typically played around a dozen games and recorded roughly 35 at-bats in spring training games. 

Ohtani added to his at-bat total on Sunday, recording three at-bats in a live batting practice session after recording an at-bat in a live batting practice on Saturday.

“He took three at-bats, and he looked good,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts told reporters. “I thought today was a good day for Shohei.”

Ohtani recorded five at-bats over two live batting practices earlier in the week, drawing much fanfare. He homered off Dodgers reliever J.P. Feyereisen on Monday.

What Shohei Ohtani (大谷翔平) said to Teoscar Hernández when he signed with the Dodgers

The live batting practice sessions help mark another step in Ohtani’s recovery from a UCL tear in his right elbow. He underwent surgery to repair the torn ligament in September, keeping him off the mound for 2024 with the expectation that he’d be able to hit by the start of the season.

Ohtani’s injury didn’t deter the Dodgers from giving him an unprecedented contract in the history of North American sports. The Dodgers signed him to a 10-year, $700 million deal in December, capitalizing on the rare opportunity to add a two-time MVP in the middle of his prime to a championship contender.

Ohtani’s Cactus League debut falls just over three weeks prior to the Dodgers’ regular-season opener. The Dodgers begin their regular season a week earlier than most of the league as they have a two-game set against the San Diego Padres in Seoul, South Korea on March 20-21. 

The Dodgers aren’t using that as a deadline day for Ohtani to be ready by, but they believe he’s progressing toward being ready to play by the time Seoul Series arrives.

“I do think that having him play certainly adds to the attention of the series, of the games,” Roberts said. “But most importantly is his health. So if it lines up, great. And if it doesn’t, then we’ll still move on from there.”

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