Doctor says Ohtani to hit in ’24, pitch in ’25
Published 11:35 pm Tuesday, September 19, 2023
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Los Angeles Angels star Shohei Ohtani had elbow surgery Tuesday, and his doctor said he expects the two-way star will be available as a hitter on opening day next season and will return to the mound as a pitcher in 2025.
Ohtani tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow on Aug. 23, ending his pitching season. He continued as a batter through Sept. 3 until an oblique strain.
Los Angeles Dodgers head team physician Dr. Neal ElAttrache operated Tuesday at the Cedars-Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Institute in Los Angeles. He said in a statement that the sides decided to “reinforce the healthy ligament in place,” suggesting the UCL wasn’t reconstructed via Tommy John surgery. ElAttrache also performed Tommy John surgery on Ohtani on Oct. 1, 2018.
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“I had a procedure done on my elbow earlier this morning and everything went very well,” Ohtani said in a post on Instagram. “Thank you very much for everyone’s prayers and kind words. It was very unfortunate that I couldn’t finish out the year on the field, but I will be rooting on the boys until the end. I will work as hard as I can and do my best to come back on the diamond stronger than ever.”
Nez Balelo, Ohtani’s agent, issued a statement released by the Angels. Balelo did not go into specifics on the type of surgery.
“The final decision and type of procedure was made with a heavy emphasis on the big picture,” Balelo said. “Shohei wanted to make sure the direction taken gave him every opportunity to hit and pitch for many years to come.”
The 29-year-old Ohtani leads the AL with 44 homers and has 96 RBIs, eight triples and 20 stolen bases. He was 10-5 with a 3.14 ERA in 23 starts, striking out 167 and walking 55 in 132 innings.
“The ultimate plan after deliberation with Shohei, was to repair the issue at hand and to reinforce the healthy ligament in place while adding viable tissue for the longevity of the elbow,” ElAttrache said in a statement released by the Angels. “I expect full recovery and he’ll be ready to hit without any restrictions come opening day of 2024 and do both (hit and pitch) come 2025.”
Ohtani is eligible for free agency after the World Series. Before the elbow injury, there was speculation he would get a record contract of $500 million or more.
Opening day next season is March 28, which will be 191 days after Ohtani’s operation. Philadelphia Phillies star Bryce Harper returned this season as a designated hitter 160 days after having Tommy John surgery.