Shohei Ohtani of the Dodgers will not participate in the Home Run Derby

Shohei Ohtani of the Dodgers will not participate in the Home Run Derby

LOS ANGELES — Shohei Ohtani will not participate in the Home Run Derby on July 15 even though the Japanese superstar ranks second in the majors with 27 home runs for the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Ohtani has only competed in the Derby once, eliminated in the first round at Coors Field in Denver in 2021. This year’s event is at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas.

“I'm in the middle of my rehabilitation process, so it doesn't look like I'll be participating,” he said through an interpreter Tuesday night.

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

“He signed 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, when he wasn't rehabbing, I think he would have loved to participate. I know it's a heavy burden for him, but I think the rehab process is something that ultimately makes him feel better about getting out,” Roberts said.

Ohtani hit a two-run shot that sailed 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 32 major-league homers this season.

Roberts said it was more a case of Derby interfering with Ohtani's rehabilitation than concern about him being injured.

“When you're playing every day with rehab it's very routine, so when an unusual situation like the Home Run Derby happens, one has to be prepared for that,” he said. “It would be a real disappointment not only for Shohei, the Dodgers and the fans if something were to happen during an event like that, which is basically an exhibition.”

In the 2021 Derby, Ohtani set the record for 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 not just his responsibility to advance the game of baseball. He does that every day,” Roberts said.

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