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Los Angeles Dodgers two-way star Shohei Ohtani will not pitch during the 2024 season after undergoing elbow surgery in September that may or may not have been his second career Tommy John surgery. That doesn't necessarily mean Ohtani will go without seeing some action in the field. Dodgers manager Dave Roberts said during a radio appearance on Friday that the two sides have discussed the AL MVP seeing some time in the outfield.

"There was even a little talk with Shohei about, come September when he can pick up a baseball and throw, would he be open to taking some balls out there in left field?" Roberts said on the Dan Patrick Show, according to MLB.com.

"[Ohtani] said, 'If it works and my arm feels OK, I'm open to it.' So we'll see, but we've got a lot of time before we get to that point," he added.

Teams tend to give their pitchers about 14 months these days to recover from Tommy John surgery. Position players often face shorter recovery timetables. New York Yankees outfielder Jasson Domínguez, for example, is expected to return from his Tommy John operation sometime over the summer, while the Phillies' Bryce Harper was back in the lineup just 160 days after his own surgery. As such, if Ohtani did undergo a second Tommy John surgery, the Dodgers are being reasonable to think he could make throws from the outfield late in the year.

Ohtani, 29, has appeared at an outfield position seven times during his Major League Baseball career. None of those outings came more recently than 2021, and none were in a starting capacity. Ohtani is yet to record either a putout, an assist, or an error during his various cameos on the grass.

That the Dodgers have already approached Ohtani about playing some outfield late in the season should come as no surprise. The Dodgers are known to value optionality as much, if not more, than any other club in the game. To wit, other teams would likely not experiment with Mookie Betts converting to second base ahead of his age-31 season

Following Los Angeles' trade with the Tampa Bay Rays, the Dodgers now have an outfield depth chart that includes James Outman, Jason Heyward, Chris Taylor, and Manuel Margot. Andy Pages, one of the better prospects in the system, figures to open the season at the Triple-A level and should figure into the equation at some point before the year ends.

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