According to Perry Minasian, general manager of the Los Angeles Angels, Shohei Ohtani had an MRI on Friday afternoon that revealed lingering irritation in his right oblique, forcing him to end his season as a batter and concentrate on healing the torn ulnar collateral ligament that had previously ended his season as a pitcher.
Ohtani, who will be a free agent at the conclusion of the current season, intends to keep playing both the field and the mound in the future. According to his agent, Nez Balelo of CAA, he will be prepared to at least hit “when the bell rings” at the start of the 2024 season.
Ohtani could have Tommy John surgery, an internal bracing operation, or a combination of the two to repair the damage in his right UCL. He could also use platelet-rich plasma and stem-cell therapy. Ohtani’s ability to pitch in 2024 would likely be eliminated by any surgical treatment.
On September 4, during a rare session of outdoor batting practice, Ohtani, 29, developed an oblique injury and missed the following 11 games. According to Minasian, he left Angel Stadium on Friday at about 4 p.m. PT to have an MRI, and he got the findings early in the Angels’ subsequent game against the Detroit Tigers.
Later that evening, when media personnel arrived at Angel Stadium’s home clubhouse, they discovered that Ohtani’s locker had been largely emptied. This sparked outrage on social media, which Minasian attempted to calm during his news conference on Saturday.
Ohtani had another outstanding campaign and seems destined to win the American League Most Valuable Player Award for the second time in the last three years. He led the AL in home runs (44), walks (91) and total bases (325) while batting.304/.412/.654 and finished 10-5 with a 3.14 ERA in 132 innings of work as a pitcher, striking out 167 hitters and walking 55.
Ohtani’s 9.0 FanGraphs wins above replacement easily leads the majors despite just pitching and batting for around five out of six months.
However, the Angels are on track to have their ninth straight losing season, which would be a franchise record. The Angels have had Ohtani for six seasons, but despite also having Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon, who have both suffered from injuries over the past three seasons, the team hasn’t even been competitive in the stretch run of the regular season.
When asked about the likelihood of doing so, Minasian responded, “That would be a question for him. But I believe he takes pleasure in being here. He has undoubtedly had three of the best seasons a player has ever had, if not the best.
I believe he appreciates his teammates, the surroundings, the support system, and the company. There is a great deal of communication and trust. I hope he stays around for a while.
Ohtani was signed by the Angels in December 2017 as a two-way player, but throughout his first two seasons with the team, he only played in half a season under former general manager Billy Eppler and manager Mike Scioscia. After PRP and stem-cell therapy failed to help, Ohtani was diagnosed with a Grade 2 tear of his right UCL in June 2018. In September, Tommy John surgery was advised.
He maintained hitting right up until the end of the season, but in October, he had Tommy John surgery, which kept him out of the starting lineup until May of the following year.
In the COVID-19-shortened 2020 season, Ohtani battled terribly as a two-way player before putting together a three-year span that will go down as one of baseball’s most remarkable in history. Ohtani slashed the ball as a hitter 277/.379/.585 in 447 games with 124 home runs, 290 RBIs, and 57 stolen bases.
He won 34 games as a pitcher, finished with a 2.84 ERA in 42823 innings, and struck out 542 batters. Aaron Judge would have won three MVP awards in a row had it not been for his record-breaking home run season in 2022.
Ohtani hasn’t made a public statement since August 9, his final start in its entirety before discovering his UCL tear when he returned to the mound 14 days later. Ohtani was in the starting lineup for Game 2 of a doubleheader despite learning of the injury shortly after leaving the previous game early. Then, while traveling with the Angels through New York, Philadelphia, and Oakland, he served as the team’s designated hitter. The oblique injury happened before the opening match of the following homestand.
Although he was occasionally left off the lineup, Ohtani remained committed to playing.
Minasian observed him “taking massive hacks” in the hitting cages earlier this week while the Angels were in Seattle in an effort to test the injury as much as possible.
Ohtani and his CAA representation will decide how to treat his elbow. The Angels, his employer for the next two and a half weeks, haven’t actually been involved in that.