Dodgers’ Shohei Ohtani benched vs. Padres due to back tightness

Shohei Ohtani was not in the Los Angeles Dodgers’ starting lineup against the San Diego Padres on Sunday because of back tightness that forced him to exit a game Saturday night.

Los Angeles manager Dave Roberts said sitting Ohtani would be a precautionary measure.

Ohtani left after his fourth at-bat in a 5-0 win over the Padres on Saturday night. He went 0 for 3 with a walk, grounding out to the pitcher in his final at-bat in the seventh inning. He was replaced by pinch-hitter Kiké Hernández in the ninth.

“His back tightened up,” Roberts said on Saturday night. “So it was one of those things where I got word before his fourth at-bat his back tightened up. So, being up 5-0, we didn’t want to push it.”

Roberts said Ohtani’s back was feeling better and added that Ohtani did some activity on Sunday. He had said his concern was “minimal” after Saturday’s game. Ohtani later told reporters he went through his normal pregame routine Sunday and felt fine. He said he started feeling back discomfort before Saturday’s game and it worsened as the game went on. Both Ohtani and Roberts expect the superstar to return to the Dodgers’ lineup on Monday in San Francisco.

Ohtani, who signed a 10-year, $700 million contract with the Dodgers last December, has been one of the best hitters in the majors this season. The two-time AL MVP leads baseball with a 1.090 OPS and is hitting .352, which ranks only behind Cleveland’s Steven Kwan (.353). Ohtani also has 11 home runs and 27 RBIs, both stats among the league leaders. 

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It is just the second time Ohtani was not in the starting lineup for the Dodgers this season. He was rested for a May 1 game versus the Arizona Diamondbacks, one day after he struck out three times in a game.

Since that day of rest, Ohtani is batting a scorching .429 with four home runs and eight RBIs in eight games. On Monday, Ohtani was named National League Player of the Week.

He has been playing as a designated hitter while he fully recovers from a second Tommy John surgery.

Reporting by The Associated Press.

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