Shohei Ohtani will not be returning to the Home Run Derby.
The Los Angeles Angels two-way star was not among the eight participants announced Thursday night for the festivities next week at Dodger Stadium.
Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register confirmed MLB offered Ohtani a spot, but he declined the invitation.
The following eight players will participate: New York Mets first baseman Pete Alonso, Atlanta Braves outfielder Ronald Acuna Jr., St. Louis Cardinals first baseman Albert Pujols, Washington Nationals outfielder Juan Soto, Seattle Mariners outfielder Julio Rodriguez, Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Kyle Schwarber, Cleveland Guardians third baseman Jose Ramirez and Texas Rangers shortstop Corey Seager.
Ohtani was selected to the AL All-Star team as a pitcher and designated hitter for the second straight season. He participated in the 2021 Home Run Derby but was eliminated in the first round by Juan Soto following a double-overtime classic.
Last July, Ohtani said he enjoyed the experience and would participate again in the future.
“I’d definitely want to participate again,” Ohtani said through interpreter Ippei Mizuhara. “But for that to happen, I’ll have to have a good first half of a season.”
Ohtani's hitting splits took a dive after the All-Star break last year, so it's possible he's forgoing the competition again out of superstition. Players have regularly blamed their derby participation on second-half slumps in the past.
Or, more likely, Ohtani is one of the busiest, most active players in baseball and wants to take advantage of a much-needed night off.