Dodgers DH Shohei Ohtani, P Yoshinobu Yamamoto on track to start in Seoul Series

Baseball fans in South Korea are on track to get the first official look at Shohei Ohtani and Yoshinobu Yamamoto in Dodger blue.

Dodgers manager Dave Roberts told the media Tuesday that Ohtani is on track to start at designated hitter and Yamamoto and fellow pitcher Tyler Glasnow are considered "safe bets" to play in the two-game series against the San Diego Padres on March 20-21 in Seoul.

Roberts did caution that things could change in the next month, but for now, fans in Seoul should see all three offseason acquisitions in their Dodgers debuts.

"This is a unique ramp-up for everyone," Roberts said during a Cactus League media event. "It's two games that matter, but it's just two games. So the entirety of the season and making sure these guys are ready to take down starts — that's most important."

Los Angeles Dodgers' Shohei Ohtani, left, and Yoshinobu Yamamoto, right, walk back to the clubhouse during spring training baseball workouts at Camelback Ranch in Phoenix, Sunday, Feb. 11, 2024. Interpreter Ippei Mizuhara walks second from left. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)
Los Angeles Dodgers designated hitter Shohei Ohtani, left, and pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto, right, are both on track to play when the Dodgers travel to South Korea next month. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster) (ASSOCIATED PRESS)

Because Los Angeles and San Diego are playing earlier than the other 28 MLB teams, their players are ahead of the usual schedule. Ohtani has already crushed a home run in his first live batting practice, and Glasnow and Yamamoto have also gotten a few reps against batters at the Dodgers' spring training facility.

Ohtani was the hottest name in this year's free-agency class and signed a 10-year, $700 million contract to join the Dodgers after spending his first six seasons in MLB with the Los Angeles Angels. He won't pitch this season as he continues to recover from elbow surgery and instead will only hit in his first season with the Dodgers.

On Dec. 14, Los Angeles agreed to trade for Glasnow, who subsequently signed a five-year, $136.6 million extension, from the Tampa Bay Rays. A week later, Yamamoto, who won three consecutive MVPs in Japan, signed a 12-year, $325 million contract.

Ohtani and Yamamoto are Japanese, but Roberts said he expects a warm reception in South Korea, as both players have huge fan bases in the country. But ultimately, whether they play depends on where they are in their respective recoveries.

"I think it's fair to say that's our hope," Roberts said. "But I don't think I am — or we are — beholden to that if it doesn't make sense."