Ohtani, who professed to play in the Seoul opening game, and the Dodgers’ strongest MVP trio will appear at Gocheok Dome

LA Dodgers’ Shohei Ohtani (30) has recovered from elbow surgery and declared that he will play as a designated hitter in the Major League’s opening game in Seoul.마카오토토도메인

Major League Baseball’s official media MLB.com reported on the 4th (Korea time) that Otani underwent his second elbow surgery last year and is recovering. It is known that Otani will not be able to pitch as a pitcher this year. However, Otani can have a significant impact on his performance at bat unlike other Major League players. As Otani is recovering smoothly from his injury at Dodger Fest, he is confident that he will serve as the designated hitter in the game against San Diego on March 20 in Seoul, Korea.

Ohtani is one of the best hitters in the Major League with a batting average of 274 (681 hits in 2483 times at bat) with 171 homers and 437 RBIs with OPS.922, and 38 wins, 19 losses with an ERA of 3.01 in 86 games (481 ⅔ innings) for pitchers. He made his big debut by winning the American League Rookie of the Year award in 2018, and has been loved since then.

He has reached his full potential from 2021. In 2021, Ohtani won the American League MVP award unanimously by posting a batting average of 257 (138 hits in 537 at-bats) with 46 home runs and 100 RBIs in 155 games (130 ⅓ innings) and 9 wins, 2 losses and an ERA of 3.18 in 23 games (130 innings) as a pitcher. In 2022, he ranked second in voting for MVP after Aaron Judge of the Yankees, who broke the American League’s new homer record (62 home runs) in 2022. He won the MVP award for the second time by posting a batting average of 344 ( 151 hits in 497 at-bats) with 44 home runs and 95 RBIs in 135 games last year, 1.066 as a batter, and 10 wins, 5 losses and an ERA of 3.14 in 23 games (132 innings). Ohtani is the first player in MLB history to receive the MVP award twice.

Ohtani, who became an FA after the end of last season, wowed the baseball world by signing a 10-year, 700 million-dollar contract with the Dodgers. It is the largest contract in professional sports history that exceeds the 12-year, $426.5 million contract extended by Mike Trout (Angels) and the $674 million contract Lionel Messi (Miami) signed with Barcelona.

Ohtani’s debut game for the Dodgers will be held at Gocheok Sky Dome in Seoul. The Dodgers and San Diego will play their regular season opener at Gocheok Dome on March 20 and 21 as part of the Major League World Tour.

The Major League Baseball is hosting games around the world to globalize baseball. So far, 29 cities in 11 countries have hosted Major League Baseball games. However, regular season games in only Tokyo, Mexico City and Monterey, Puerto Rico San Juan, Australia, Sydney, and London have been held. Korea will host the opening game of the Major League at Gocheok Dome this year, becoming the 12th country where Major League games are played. Seoul is the fifth country in the world to host the opening game of the regular season after Monterey, Tokyo, Puerto Rico, San Juan, and Sydney.

Some forecast that Ohtani may not play in the Seoul Series due to an elbow injury. However, Ohtani said, “We are making smooth progress in rehabilitation. We are not ahead of ourselves, but we are not lagging behind. We are exactly on schedule. We will be ready if there are no other issues,” adding, “I am very confident” that he will play as the designated hitter in the opening game in Seoul.

The Dodgers formed the MVP lineup, with Ohtani joining the lineup this year, leading to Mookie Betts, Otani and Freddie Freeman. Ohtani won the unanimous MVP twice, Betts won the American League MVP in 2018, and Freeman won the National League MVP in 2020. With Ohtani’s participation in the Seoul Series, Korean baseball fans will be able to see the Dodgers’ powerful MVP trio in full.

Betts, who boasts a stellar winning career including MVP, seven All-Star, six Silver Sluggers, and six Gold Gloves, had an outstanding performance last year with a batting average of 377 with 39 home runs and 107 RBIs in 152 games (179 hits in 584 at-bats) and an OPS of .987. Betts, who came to the Dodgers in a blockbuster trade with Boston in January 2020, signed a 12-year, $365 million (about 488.6 billion won) extension with the Dodgers shortly after his transfer.

Freeman has also won great awards including MVP, 7 All-Star, 3 Silver Sluggers, and 1 Gold Glove, and he batted .331 (211 hits in 637 at-bats) with 29 home runs and 102 RBIs in 161 games last year. Freeman, a former Atlanta franchise star, led his team to win the World Series in 2021 and signed a six-year, $162 million contract with the Dodgers after the end of the season to wear the Dodgers’ uniform.

MLB.com said, “The Dodgers expect Ohtani to join the lineup from the start of the season. Fans are curious about how the Dodgers will handle the batting order. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said he didn’t think much about the lineup, but he enjoyed deciding how to deploy three MVPs. When Roberts voted for his fans, Betts, Ohtani and Freeman followed.”

“I was just talking to the players. And I’m not going to tell you who the first three batters will be in the opening round. But I hope Mookie, Freddie, and Shohei will be involved in this,” Roberts said with a smile.

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