Shohei Ohtani says he’d be honored to compete in home run derby

Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani swings at a pitch during a victory Sunday over the St. Louis Cardinals. Ohtani says he's be honored to compete in the Major League Baseball home run derby.
(Dilip Vishwanat / Getty Images)

Some sluggers don’t like to hit in baseball’s annual home run derby because they fear that taking too many big swings can create bad habits. Others are wary of injury. Angels star Mike Trout has repeatedly declined proposals to join the midsummer festivities, preferring to rest.

Not Shohei Othani. If an invite to participate in this season’s event were sent his way, the Angels designated hitter would be quick to bring it to team officials.

Ohtani, who is not pitching this year as he continues to recover from offseason Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, said Sunday night he’d “be honored to compete in it.”

The only question that would remain is whether the task of hitting at maximum effort for extended periods of time would take an undue toll on the elbow he has been diligently working to rehab.


“We haven’t discussed anything,” Ohtani said through his interpreter. “But if they do ask me, we’ll have to discuss it internally with the medical staff. Of course, I’d love to play in but it’s not only my decision. We have to see what the team says.”

Ohtani, a left-handed hitter, has not experienced discomfort stemming from his surgically repaired elbow while hitting. He has actually begun to put together a campaign that could outdo his 2018 season, in which he hit 22 home runs, had a .285 batting average and .925 on-base-plus-slugging percentage and was named the American League’s rookie of the year.

Since May 31, Ohtani has batted .316 (24 for 76) with four doubles, one triple, seven home runs and 19 RBIs. He hit for the cycle on the first game of the Angels’ road trip, which concluded Sunday with a 6-4 victory over the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium.

Sign up for our daily sports newsletter »

A deal struck between the league and the players union increased bonus money by $2 million to $2.5 million this year. A $1 million prize awaits the event winner.

Short hops

Injured shortstop Andrelton Simmons is still on track to rejoin the active roster during the Angels’ upcoming homestand, but Ausmus could not definitively say when. Simmons, out since severely spraining his left ankle on May 20, played in two rehab games last week but moved around with a noticeable limp. The Angels shut him down for the weekend. They have not decided if Simmons will need to play in more rehab games before reinstating him. … The Angels have not announced a starter for Wednesday’s game against the Cincinnati Reds. Right-hander Trevor Cahill, due to come off the injured list this week, could be an option. He last pitched Friday in a rehab start, so he would be on regular rest.