Shohei Ohtani does what everyone came to see in Dodgers spring training debut

Feb 27, 2024; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers designated hitter Shohei Ohtani (17)
Feb 27, 2024; Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers designated hitter Shohei Ohtani (17) / Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

When Shohei Ohtani stepped up to bat for the Dodgers in the top of the first inning, most of Camelback was on its feet to greet him. A good chunk of fans were there in Ohtani's record-breaking Dodgers jersey, fewer in now-obsolete Ohtani-Angels jerseys, and even fewer were there to see the visiting White Sox — but really, everyone was there for Ohtani.

His first two at-bats were mostly unremarkable. The first resulted in a strikeout swinging, the second in a double-play ground ball that scored Jose Ramos from third. Despite the star power from 1-7 in the Dodgers lineup, batters who came up between Ohtani were mostly an afterthought.

The White Sox were up 4-1 thanks to an Eloy Jimenez double and a Paul DeJong three-run homer, and then Ohtani came up again in the bottom of the fifth for this third and probably final at bat. He worked the count full, then did what everyone had come to see: he swung at a pitch right down the middle and put it over the left field fence.

Shohei Ohtani homers in his third at-bat with Dodgers

The home run also scored Jose Ramos again, and Ohtani crossed home plate with a huge smile on his face. With one swing, the as-yet undefeated Dodgers were only down by one run, and all three of their runs were scored thanks to balls Ohtani put in play.

It wouldn't be an overstatement to say that this is what we all expected from Ohtani's Dodger debut, and his first plate appearances since August 2023. His return has been the most anticipated of the year after undergoing a UCL surgery that may have given some fans cause to worry about how he'd look going into the season.

His home run today should squash that worry. Ohtani's rehab and return has been carefully, meticulously monitored by the team, and they put him on the field today sure that he was 100%. It definitely seems that they were right.