Ohtani debuts custom New Balance SO1 cleats at Dodgers Spring Training

Ohtani's recovery and Spring Training role under scrutiny.

by Nouman Rasool
Ohtani debuts custom New Balance SO1 cleats at Dodgers Spring Training
© Michael Reaves/Getty Images

As the Los Angeles Dodgers gear up for their Spring Training games, all eyes are on Shohei Ohtani, the team's marquee player, stirring excitement among fans eager to catch a glimpse of the superstar in action. Notably, during a practice session, Ohtani showcased an unreleased pair of New Balance SO1 cleats, a move that quickly caught the attention of fans as the Dodgers took to Instagram to share snapshots of the athlete, accompanied by the caption, "The Sho begins."

Ohtani's Spring Training Status

Concerns had been swirling about Ohtani's fitness for Spring Training following his elbow surgery in 2023.

The procedure has sidelined him from pitching duties until the 2025 MLB season, although he is anticipated to make a complete recovery in time for Opening Day, despite possibly having a restricted role in the Spring Training lineup.

The Dodgers are set to initiate their Spring Training engagements with a match against the San Diego Padres on February 22, an event that is highly anticipated by fans and enthusiasts alike. Given the substantial $700 million agreement between Ohtani and the Dodgers, there is considerable speculation regarding his pitching capabilities.

The deal's success hinges significantly on Ohtani's performance as a pitcher; a decline could lead to unfavorable outcomes for the team, especially if it fails to secure a World Series victory. Ohtani underwent elbow surgery in September 2023, but it's important to note that it was not the more commonly known Tommy John surgery.

Dr. Neal ElAttrache, who performed the surgery, has expressed optimism about Ohtani's recovery, stating, "The ultimate plan after deliberation with Shohei was to repair the issue at hand and to reinforce the healthy ligament in place while adding viable tissue for the longevity of the elbow.

I expect full recovery, and he’ll be ready to hit without any restrictions come Opening Day of 2024 and do both come 2025”. Ohtani himself has shared positive insights into his recovery process, indicating that his swing effort is at 100% and that he is preparing for the season by facing live pitching.

His familiarity with the rehabilitation process gives him confidence in a smoother preparation for the upcoming season. While Ohtani's statements offer reassurance, skepticism will likely persist until he demonstrates his pitching prowess in 2025, marking a critical period for both the athlete and the Dodgers as they navigate the high-stakes environment of MLB.