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Key dates to know for Shohei Ohtani’s first season with the Dodgers

From an international opener to his first game against the Angels, here are all the dates to circle on your calendar.

The baseball world is still reeling from Shohei Ohtani’s weekend announcement that he had chosen to sign with the Los Angeles Dodgers. It’s a move with far-reaching implications, arguably the best player in the history of the sport signing the richest contract in the history of any sport — and landing with one of the world’s true glamour franchises.

Safe to say that all eyes will be on L.A. and its $700 million dollar man next season. So let’s take a look at how 2024 shapes up for Ohtani and the Dodgers, with all the key dates and notable games to look forward to.

Dodgers 2024 schedule: Key dates to know

Feb. 22: First spring training game

Ohtani might not even appear in the team’s first Cactus League game; it’s not uncommon for veterans to ramp up more slowly and sit out the first few games of the spring. But Feb. 22 is when the Dodgers open their exhibition schedule, and that means it’s the first time we could plausibly see Ohtani in action in a Dodgers uniform.

March 20-21: Seoul Series

The Dodgers open their regular season across the Pacific Ocean, with a two-game series against the NL West rival San Diego Padres in Seoul, South Korea — the first two MLB games ever played in the country. Ohtani has played in Korea previously, most notably this spring during the World Baseball Classic with Team Japan. Still, this will be a historic occasion, even though we won’t get an Ohtani vs. Juan Soto showdown. (That meeting will have to wait a few months.)

March 28: Dodgers home opener

Congrats to the St. Louis Cardinals, the first team to face Ohtani in front of what will no-doubt be a raucous crowd at Dodger Stadium. After the Seoul Series, Los Angeles will begin the domestic portion of its regular season with a four-game set against St. Louis that begins on Thursday, March 28. After that, the arch rival — and reported Ohtani finalist — San Francisco Giants come to town, so we’re getting right into the juicy part of the schedule.

April 5: Dodgers road opener

Speaking of juicy: Ohtani’s first non-Seoul road game as a Dodger will come at Wrigley Field, against a Chicago Cubs teams that also reportedly pursued him this offseason. Just how seriously involved the Cubbies were remains unknown — $700 million is an awful lot of millions — but they were at least among the group of teams who repeatedly came up as a finalist. Except the Friendly Confines to be ... well, maybe not so friendly.

April 19-21 vs. Mets

Steve Cohen’s club also are thought to have made a run at landing Ohtani, though it sounds like the two-way superstar was never seriously considering coming to either of the New York teams — nor did the Mets ever make a formal offer, at least according to the New York Post. Still, you can be sure that an owner with the ambition (and very deep pockets) of Cohen wanted to land Ohtani — who wouldn’t? — and it has to sting a little that the weren’t even lose to getting him. Instead, they’ll see him in Dodger Stadium in mid-April, with Los Angeles paying a visit to Citi Field for a three-game set from May 27-29.

April 26-28 at Blue Jays

Of course, while the Cubs, Giants and Mets were all snubbed to some extent, no team was left at the altar more cruelly than the Jays — who, for a glorious few hours last Friday afternoon, were led to believe that Ohtani was en route to Toronto to put his name on the dotted line. Ohtani and the Dodgers will head north for a three-game weekend series from April 26-28, and if the current mood in Toronto is any indication, you can bet that the Rogers Centre crowd will boo Ohtani like he’s never been booed before. But hey, as Reggie Jackson once said: They don’t boo nobodies.

May 3-5 vs. Braves

The Braves were bandied about as a potential dark horse for Ohtani early in the offseason but never seemed to make a serious push to sign him. Still, this is a blockbuster matchup: the top two teams in the National League and the top two offenses in all of baseball going head-to-head in a potential playoff preview. Ohtani, Mookie Betts, and Freddie Freeman vs. Ronald Acuna Jr., Matt Olson and Austin Riley? Yes please.

June 7-9 at Yankees

If you had to circle a single series on the calendar in 2024, this would probably be it: Ohtani vs. Soto, Aaron Judge, Gerrit Cole and the gang at Yankee Stadium. The cheapest ticket might be in the five-figure range, and you know the Bleacher Creatures will come prepared.

June 11-13 vs. Rangers

It’s a little crazy to think that the defending World Series champion Rangers have flown under the radar so far this winter. But that will change in a big way in June, when Texas will visit Ohtani and the Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. This is a star-studded showdown regardless, but can you imagine if Clayton Kershaw does in fact choose to leave the Dodgers for his hometown Rangers this winter?

June 21-22 vs. Angels

For the first time in his career, Ohtani will face the Angels on June 21 and 22. The first leg of the Freeway Series is at Dodger Stadium next year, with a two-game set on Friday and Saturday.

July 15-16: Home Run Derby and All-Star Game

The 2024 All-Star festivities will take place at Globe Life Field next season, home of the defending World Series champion Rangers. Count on Ohtani being among those voted into the game — and with pitching duties off his plate, could he decide to make his second career appearance in the Home Run Derby?

Sept. 3-4 at Angels

The second and final leg of the Freeway Series doesn’t come until September, meaning we’ll have to wait several months for Ohtani to make his long-awaited return to Angel Stadium — his first as a visiting player. How will Halos fans greet their former player? Anything other than a rousing ovation would be a shame; direct those boos at the braintrust that had years to put a contending team around Ohtani and Mike Trout and couldn’t get it done.