Ohtani's timeline; Yamamoto, Glasnow in line to pitch in Korea

February 22nd, 2024

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Given that has gone through the rehab process following elbow surgery, the Dodgers are letting the two-way superstar create his schedule.

For Ohtani to feel comfortable playing on Opening Day, March 20, in Seoul, South Korea, the two-time American League MVP Award winner said he must go through 50 at-bats this spring.

On Wednesday, Ohtani went through live batting practice on the field for the second time this spring, another strong indicator that he'll be hitting atop the Dodgers' lineup a month from now.

"I feel like I have more than enough time to get to 50 at-bats," Ohtani said through interpreter Ippei Mizuhara. "I can simulate it inside with the Trajekt Arc machine. I can do it in live at-bats. I'll have enough time."

Ohtani and the Dodgers are still determining when he'll get into Cactus League games or how many he'll need to participate in. This weekend likely will be unrealistic for Ohtani. Sometime next week appears to be the earliest Ohtani gets into a game. In the meantime, Ohtani has been taking at-bats during live BP. The five at-bats he has taken on the backfields will ultimately count toward his goal of 50 plate appearances this spring.

"I feel like we're right on schedule, which is a really good thing," Ohtani said. "And my body is reacting really well so far. So everything is trending in the right direction."

It's not unusual for the Dodgers to allow a star player to drive his rehab process. For the Dodgers, the most important thing is to enable Ohtani to feel comfortable and get into the season healthy. Through two weeks of camp, all things are pointing up for Ohtani in his rehab, giving the Dodgers a lot of optimism.

"I think certain players, certainly a guy like Shohei, knowing what the finish line looks like and then how we get there, I think, is important to him," said Dodgers manager Dave Roberts. "I think it makes us all feel better about how we get to that point."

Opening Series starters

The Dodgers get Cactus League games going on Thursday against the Padres, but their minds are already starting to turn toward the two-game Opening Series in Seoul against San Diego on March 20-21.

While the Dodgers fully understand there's still a lot to be determined before then, their current plans are to roll out their two top pitching acquisitions of the winter -- and -- against the Padres.

"I think that makes sense," Roberts said with a smile. "But again, this is a unique ramp-up for everyone. Like I said, it's two games that matter, but it's just two games. So the entirety of the season and making sure these guys are ready to take down the starts, that's most important."

Yamamoto won't pitch in a Cactus League game this weekend, likely setting up for a game early next week. The Japanese phenom could be in line to start the first of the two games against the Padres, though that has yet to be determined.

As for Glasnow, the tall right-hander has also made quite the impression on his new team and can be a frontline starter. For Glasnow, it'll all come down to his ability to stay on the field and off the injured list, which he has struggled to do so far in his career.

"It's exciting," Roberts said when asked about the possibility of showing off Yamamoto and Glasnow early in the season. "It's been a historic offseason for the Dodgers. I don't smile a whole lot when I'm on the field. But I'm smiling inside because we have to be able to have those guys work together. … To say these guys are going to kind of anchor our rotation for years to come is very exciting."