MLB baseball star Shohei Ohtani will not participate in the Home Run Derby on July 15, despite ranking second in the majors with 27 homers. This decision comes as Ohtani continues his recovery from an elbow ligament injury, prioritizing his rehabilitation over the popular event.

Ohtani, who had a procedure on his elbow in September, is only hitting and not pitching this season. This approach shows the Dodgers’ commitment to Ohtani’s long-term health and the team’s championship aspirations.

Ohtani’s manager, Dave Roberts, said to ESPN: “He signed up here to help us win a championship, and nothing should get in the way of that.”

Roberts further explained that the decision was not due to concerns about potential injury during the Derby but rather the interference it would pose to Ohtani’s structured rehab regimen.

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“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 one is prepared for,” Roberts 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.”

On July 2, Ohtani blasted a two-run shot that traveled 433 feet to right-center, helping the Dodgers secure a 6-5 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks. With 27 home runs this season, he trails only New York Yankees slugger Aaron Judge, who leads the majors with 32 homers.

Previously in the 2021 derby, Ohtani set a record for the most homers of at least 500 feet with six. His dual-threat ability as a position player and a pitcher makes him a unique player in baseball.

“It’s just not his responsibility alone to carry the game of baseball,” Roberts reiterated. “He does it on a daily basis.”

Ohtani’s decision to sit out the Derby highlights his and the Dodgers’ prioritization of health and team success over individual accolades. While the Home Run Derby will miss his presence, the decision bodes well for his and the Dodgers’ future success.

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