World Baseball Classic

Shohei Ohtani won’t participate in Home Run Derby while rehabbing from Tommy John surgery

Shohei Ohtani won't participate in Home Run Derby while rehabbing from Tommy John surgery

Despite slugging 27 home runs this season, Shohei Ohtani won’t be participating in the 2024 Home Run Derby. (AP Photo/Ryan Sun)

The star sluggers of MLB will be thwacking the baseball left and right at the Home Run Derby on July 15, but Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Dodgers will not be one of them.

Following the Dodgers' 6-5 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday night, manager Dave Roberts broke the news that the Japanese megastar would be sitting out the Derby. While normally Ohtani would be happy to participate, he and the team have decided that his rehab from Tommy John surgery is the priority.

“In any other normal situation where he wasn’t rehabbing, I think he would love to participate," Roberts said. "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 the main concern is the flow of Ohtani's rehab, which the Derby would interrupt. But there's also the chance that Ohtani could get 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 no 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.”

Ohtani, who will turn 30 on Friday, is hitting .320/.402/.646 with 27 home runs and 16 stolen bases over 83 games this season. He has taken part in the Home Run Derby before, back in 2021. He hit 28 homers, but was bested by Juan Soto's 31 homers in the head-to-head matchup.

Only one player has agreed to participate in the 2024 Home Run Derby so far: Baltimore Orioles shortstop Gunnar Henderson. He and the other eventual competitors will be the first to try out the Derby's new rules, which aim to slow down the normally frenetic pace of the yearly slugfest.

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