Shohei Ohtani Progressing Toward 2025 Return to Pitching

Shohei Ohtani

Getty Dodgers two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani

Shohei Ohtani might be willing to settle in as a full-time outfielder, but the two-way superstar isn’t preparing for that reality.

Ohtani met with the media on Monday, May 27 in New York before rain spoiled the Dodgers’ Memorial Day game against the New York Mets and provided an update on his progress as he eyes a return to the mound in 2025.

Through translator Will Ireton, Ohtani said he has been throwing since the Dodgers returned from South Korea in March.’ s Jose Toribio reports that Ohtani is now throwing from about 60 feet. He’s even hit 80 mph in his last couple sessions, which have gone around “60 or 70 throws.”

“Just continuing to increase the distance and the pitches, and just seeing where that goes,” Ohtani said, per Toribio. “I’m not quite sure how far I’m gonna go out there, but that’s the progression.”

Toribio added that the Dodgers and Ohtani will not rush him back as a pitcher in 2024. That plan should stick even if the Dodgers make a deep playoff run.

Ohtani has not pitched since August 2023, when he suffered a torn ligament in his right elbow — the same injury that often leads to Tommy John surgery. He already underwent the procedure in 2018.

Ohtani underwent another surgery to repair the ligament in September, but it’s not clear what the nature of the procedure was.

“I had a procedure done on my elbow earlier this morning and everything went very well,” Ohtani said in a statement at the time. “I will work as hard as I can and do my best to come back on the diamond stronger than ever.”

Shohei Ohtani is Putting Up MVP Numbers…Again

Ohtani has won two of the last three American League MVP awards, and a move to the National League has not kept him from posting eye-popping statistics. Through 53 games, he is the NL leader in batting average (.336), slugging percentage (.621), and OPS (1.024).

It’s not out of the question that Ohtani, a player who has etched his name in the Major League record books routinely since coming to the United States in 2018, could do so again by becoming the first player to ever win AL MVP and NL MVP in consecutive years. Frank Robinson is the only player to ever win the honor in both leagues, doing so in 1961 and 1966.

And that’s with Ohtani only performing as a hitter. In addition to not pitching, the Dodgers have kept him out of the outfield, only penciling him in as designated hitter this season.

Eyes on the Big Picture

Ohtani signed a 10-year, $700 million contract with the Dodgers in the offseason, which is backloaded to pay him the bulk of that money beginning in 2034. He revealed in an interview with GQ Japan that he intends to play out all 10 years of that deal, taking him through his age 38 season.

With all the money that Los Angeles has committed to Ohtani, the team will be cautious. His agent, Naz Balelo, said at the time of his surgery that the procedure was done with “a heavy emphasis on the big picture” of his career, according to Brent Maguire of

His team shares that sentiment. Bob Nightengale of USA Today reported earlier in May that it’s possible the Dodgers will eventually ask Ohtani to only concentrate on hitting.

“If the Los Angeles Dodgers ask Shohei Ohtani to give up pitching and be an everyday outfielder in the future, two persons familiar with Ohtani’s thinking say he’d likely be amenable,” Nightengale wrote.

Ohtani indicated on Monday, however, that he is looking forward to getting back out on the mound.

“I think any starting pitcher can tell you that there’s a little bit of nervousness going into a game you start,” Ohtani said. “In a sense, I do miss that kind of atmosphere. But right now I’m really just focusing on progressing every day, really focusing on that.”

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