Shohei Ohtani is batting second between Mookie Betts and Freddie Freeman in his Dodgers debut


GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Shohei Ohtani’s home in the Los Angeles Dodgers batting order will be the No. 2 spot — at least for now.

“Just seeing Shohei in the lineup makes us a lot better,” Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said Tuesday. “There’s been a lot of anticipation, so we’re excited.”

The two-way Japanese star is expected to get two or three plate appearances Tuesday when he makes his exhibition debut with Dodgers against the Chicago White Sox. He’s in the second spot of the lineup, sandwiched between Mookie Betts, who is the leadoff hitter, and Freddie Freeman.

Roberts said all three stars were receptive to the Betts-Ohtani-Freeman lineup construction. The manager added that having Ohtani at the No. 2 spot wasn’t “set in stone,” but it’s something he wants to try for a while during spring training.

“I feel that having Shohei hitting in front of Freddie gives Shohei a lot of protection,” Roberts said.

The will be Ohtani’s first game action since signing a record $700 million, 10-year contract during the offseason — and since right elbow surgery in September that will keep the two-time MVP from pitching this year. He’ll be the designated hitter, a role he’s expected to fill all season.

Ohtani has looked sharp in practice this spring and took live batting practice on Sunday. Roberts has said Ohtani will dictate how many at-bats he gets Tuesday, but he expected him to come up two or three times.

The 29-year-old Ohtani is further along in his recovery than Los Angeles anticipated, and the team hopes he will be available when the Dodgers and the San Diego Padres play a two-game series in Seoul, South Korea, on March 20 and 21 to start the regular season.

“Most importantly is his health,” Roberts told reporters this week. “So if it lines up, great. And if it doesn’t, then we’ll still move on from there.”



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