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Shohei Ohtani won’t play in Dodgers’ spring training opener, stays away from live batting practice

Los Angeles Dodgers Shohei Ohtani

Feb 18, 2024; Glendale, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers designated hitter Shohei Ohtani (17) stretches during spring training at Camelback Ranch. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

© Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Shohei Ohtani did not participate in live batting practice Sunday, and his Los Angeles Dodgers spring training debut is on hold.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Ohtani, who is coming back from elbow surgery, will not play in Thursday’s opener against the San Diego Padres. The two-time MVP signed a record $700 million, 10-year contract as a free agent in December.

Roberts, though, has been encouraged by Ohtani’s progress physically.

“He’s a lot further along than I think any of us — maybe not named Shohei — would have expected,” Roberts said on Saturday. “He’s worked really hard, very diligent in his work, so he’s ahead of schedule.

“What that means as far as when he’s going to play in a Cactus League game, I don’t know that answer. But it just seems like every single day, he keeps better and feels real good.”

The two-time AL MVP won’t pitch this season following right elbow surgery on Sept. 19 but hopes to be ready as a hitter by the March 20 opener against the Padres in Seoul, South Korea. He hit .304 with 44 home runs last year with the Los Angeles Angels.