Shohei Ohtani Contemplating the Home Run Derby amid Record-Breaking RBI Streak with the Dodgers

Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports
Jun 26, 2024; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers designated hitter Shohei Ohtani (17) hits a solo home run against the Chicago White Sox during the first inning at Guaranteed Rate Field.

CHICAGO (AP) — Shohei Ohtani is rolling along for the Los Angeles Dodgers at the moment.

When it comes to the Home Run Derby, well, stay tuned.

Ohtani hit a leadoff drive against the Chicago White Sox for the second straight night on Wednesday, extending his RBI streak to a franchise-record 10 games. The two-time AL MVP is batting .310 (27 for 87) with 11 homers, 23 RBIs and 24 runs in 23 games this month.

“Really my approach is to swing at strikes, and just making sure that my posture and everything else is lined up,” Ohtani said through a translator.

Ohtani’s latest tear has him contemplating another try at the Derby on July 15 as part of the All-Star festivities at Globe Life Field in Texas. He last participated in 2021 in Denver, when he lost to Juan Soto in a memorable first-round showdown.

Asked by Japanese reporters about the Derby following Los Angeles’ 4-3 victory at Chicago on Tuesday night, Ohtani expressed interest in the marquee event, but said he had to speak with the team about the possibility. A day later, he reiterated his thoughts.

“It hasn’t really changed much since yesterday,” Ohtani said after Wednesday night’s 4-0 win over the White Sox. “It’s something I have to talk to a lot of people about and make a decision.”

Ohtani, who turns 30 on July 5, is in his first season with the Dodgers after agreeing to a $700 million, 10-year contract in December. He isn’t going to pitch this year after he had major elbow surgery in September during his final season with the Angels — something that assuredly will come up during Derby discussions with his new team.

“The one side of it, for him to be in the Home Run Derby, it’s great for baseball, clearly,” manager Dave Roberts said. “The other side of it, on the manager of the Dodgers side of it, you’re trying to be more cautious and appreciating the fact that there’s a lot more swings, higher intensity, you know, going through the rehab process with his elbow.

“But for me, personally, it’s just defaulting to the player and supporting Shohei in whatever he chooses.”

Ohtani connected on a full-count cut fastball from Erick Fedde on Wednesday night, sending the ball soaring over the fence in right-center for his NL-high 25th homer. The 437-foot drive had a 113.9 mph exit velocity.

It was Ohtani’s third leadoff homer this season and No. 9 for his career.

Ohtani also walked twice. He scored from first on Freddie Freeman’s two-run double to right in the third inning.

“He’s unbelievable. He’s a freak,” Dodgers catcher Austin Barnes said.

Ohtani had two hits and two RBIs in the Dodgers’ win on Tuesday night. He went deep in the first inning against Chris Flexen, and then walked and scored in the third. He also hit a tiebreaking RBI single in the fourth.

Ohtani moved into the leadoff spot after Mookie Betts was sidelined by a broken left hand. He became the first player to hit a leadoff homer for the Dodgers in consecutive games since Betts on May 31 and June 2, 2023. He has driven in 17 runs during his RBI streak.

“Shohei’s just really on a heater right now and swinging the bat so well,” Roberts said. “You know the leadoff homers, the consecutive games with a run batted in, all that stuff. … If they throw it over the plate in his zone, he’s going to hit it hard.”