Shohei Ohtani says he won’t participate in Home Run Derby during All-Star festivities

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Shohei Ohtani won’t participate in the Home Run Derby on July 15 despite the Japanese superstar ranking second in the majors with 27 homers for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Ohtani has taken part in the Derby just once, exiting in the first round in 2021 at Coors Field in Denver. This year’s event is at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas.

“I’m in the middle of my rehab progression, so it’s not going to look like I’ll be participating,” he said through a translator on Tuesday night.

Ohtani is only hitting, not pitching, this season as he recovers from an injured elbow ligament. He had a procedure in September before agreeing to a $700 million, 10-year deal with the Dodgers in December.

“He signed up here to help us win a championship and nothing should get in the way of that,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said.

“In any other normal situation where he wasn’t rehabbing, I think he would love to participate. I know that it’s weighed heavy on him, but I do think the rehab process is something that ultimately makes him feel better about bowing out,” Roberts said.

Ohtani blasted a two-run shot that traveled 433 feet to right-center in the seventh inning of the Dodgers’ 6-5 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday night. He is second to New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge, who has a major league-leading 32 homers this season.

Ohtani went 3 for 5 with two runs and two RBIs against the D-backs. He’s hitting .380 in the leadoff spot since Mookie Betts broke his hand on June 16.

Roberts said it was more a case of the Derby interfering with Ohtani’s rehab than a concern about him getting hurt.

“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, that’s something that one is prepared for,” he said. “It would just be a real disappointment for not only Shohei, the Dodgers and also the fans if something were to happen during something like that, which is an exhibition essentially.”

In the 2021 Derby, Ohtani set a record for the most homers of at least 500 feet with six. He was the first player to be selected as an All-Star as both a position player and a pitcher, doing so in 2021 and 2022 while with the Los Angeles Angels.

“It’s just not his responsibility alone to carry the game of baseball,” Roberts said. “He does it on a daily basis.”



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