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Dodgers put eyes on next Japanese phenom: Shohei Ohtani

A couple weeks after acquiring Yu Darvish, the Dodgers sent a sizable contingent including president of baseball operations Andrew Friedman and former ace Orel Hershiser to Japan to see the country’s newest phenom: 23-year-old pitcher/outfielder Shohei Ohtani.

Ohtani recorded a pair of hits as the designated hitter for the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters, Darvish’s former club, in the game witnessed by the Dodgers officials. The group also included director of player personnel Galen Carr. Sports Nippon reported that the Texas Rangers and Pittsburgh Pirates also had scouts in attendance.

It is unclear if Ohtani might come to Major League Baseball; if he does, he may not become available until after next season.

Ohtani entered Friday hitting .322 with four home runs and 12 RBIs in 36 games this year. He was 10-4 with a 1.86 ERA last year but has pitched in just one game in 2017 after suffering a hamstring injury; however he is believed to have more potential as a pitcher than as a hitter. Ohtani did not play in the World Baseball Classic because of an ankle injury.

The Dodgers won the last bidding contest for a Japanese star, signing Kenta Maeda to an eight-year, $24-million contract in the winter before 2016. The Dodgers have not tipped their hand about whether they will try to keep Darvish, a free agent this winter.

Kershaw to the mound

Clayton Kershaw (back strain) threw a 40-pitch bullpen session before Friday’s game. He is scheduled to appear in a simulated outing next week in Pittsburgh.

“Very good execution,” manager Dave Roberts said. “If you hadn’t known any better, it would have looked like just a typical Clayton Kershaw side session in the regular season between starts. That’s a good thing.”

Darvish goes house-hunting

Darvish did not travel with the team to Detroit on Thursday; the organization gave him an extra day to find a residence in Los Angeles. Roberts expected Darvish to meet the team later on Friday night.

Asked for the advice he gave Darvish on house-hunting, Roberts chuckled.

“I just said, ‘Be mindful of the traffic,’” Roberts said. “‘Get that reverse commute.’ Whether he took heed or not, I’m not sure.”

Seager plays designated hitter

Corey Seager wore a compression sleeve on his right arm during a pregame workout, did not take batting practice and did not play the field Friday at Detroit. Seager said there was no issue with his arm. He had agreed to work on his throwing mechanics with team officials before the game.

Roberts used him as the designated hitter and Seager went 1 for 4 with a two-run single and a sacrifice fly.

“Corey is fine,” Roberts said before the game. “To give Corey a day off his feet, [after] a day off, is a good thing.”

andy.mccullough@latimes.com

Follow Andy McCullough on Twitter @McCulloughTimes

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