Shohei Ohtani set for Dodgers debut vs. Padres in Seoul

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Just as with his free agency during the offseason, Shohei Ohtani will make his regular-season debut for the Los Angeles Dodgers hidden from plain view, taking place a half of a world away and in the early-morning hours for U.S. fans.

The most anticipated story of the 2024 season begins at Seoul, South Korea, on Wednesday when Ohtani takes the field for the Dodgers against the San Diego Padres in the first of two regular-season games of what has been billed as the “MLB World Tour Seoul Series 2024.”

First pitch is scheduled for 6:05 a.m. ET, or 3:05 a.m. in Southern California, where there has been considerable anticipation for the new season among the fan bases of both teams.

For the Dodgers, there is not only the addition of Ohtani, but his Japanese countryman right-hander Yoshinobu Yamamoto as well as right-hander Tyler Glasnow, who was acquired in a trade with the Tampa Bay Rays. Glasnow will take the mound Wednesday in his debut for his hometown team.

“It means everything,” Glasnow said. “Just to sign here, that all being a reality feels crazy. Then when they told me I was the Opening Day starter, I definitely felt a lot of pride and excitement.”

In 21 starts last season, Glasnow went 10-7 with a 3.53 ERA for the Rays. His experience against the Padres is limited with just five relief innings over his eight major league seasons, all in 2018. He gave up a total of one run in those outings.

Ohtani will serve as the Dodgers’ designated hitter. The two-way star isn’t expected to pitch this season following elbow surgery.

Dodgers projected shortstop Mookie Betts said of the attention the team is getting in South Korea, mostly because of Ohtani’s presence, “Seeing all this, it’s super cool, but it kind of is what it is. Just got to make sure we take care of our job.”

The Padres are getting plenty of love in South Korea as well. Their starting shortstop is Ha-Seong Kim, who was born in Seoul and hit two home runs in his former home ballpark during an exhibition game on Monday.

“Kim is a pro, he shows up, great teammate, very humble, plays hard,” new Padres manager Mike Shildt said. “He works extremely hard, prepares well and shows up and makes things happen.”

San Diego has another talent from Asia, Japan’s Yu Darvish, who is set to start in the Wednesday opener.

Darvish, who pitched for the Dodgers late in 2017, went 8-10 with a 4.56 ERA in 24 starts for the Padres last season. He was 1-0 with a 1.98 ERA in two starts against his former team in 2023. In 12 career starts against the Dodgers, Darvish is 4-5 with a 2.38 ERA.

“Just playing in Korea alone, that’s a big deal to me, but on top of that, we’re facing a really good team that made some really good additions in the offseason,” Darvish said through an interpreter. “We’re looking forward to going against (the Dodgers), fighting against them.”

San Diego’s retooled roster will proceed without outfielder Juan Soto, who was traded to the New York Yankees in a deal that brought back a haul of talent.

Included in that return were right-handed starters Michael King and Jhony Brito. Also new to the Padres is right-hander Dylan Cease, who was acquired from the Chicago White Sox last week as the Padres were boarding their flight to South Korea.

The San Diego lineup is headlined by the dynamic duo of Fernando Tatis Jr. and Manny Machado as San Diego looks to improve on a disappointing 82-80 season in 2023.…Read more by Field Level Media

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