Shohei Ohtani underwent an elbow procedure Tuesday as his future as both a hitter and pitcher seems to be coming into clearer view — even if his standing with the Angels remains murky at best.
Ohtani, who tore the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in his right elbow earlier this summer, underwent a procedure Tuesday to “reinforce the healthy ligament,” according to Dr. Neal ElAttrache, who performed the procedure.
ElAttrache, the head team physician for the Los Angeles Rams and Dodgers, recently performed the surgery to fix Aaron Rodgers’ torn Achilles tendon.
The noted orthopedic surgeon said Ohtani plans to come back as a hitter at the start of next season and then return as a two-way player in 2025.
“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 the 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.”
On Tuesday, Ohtani, who had previously undergone Tommy John surgery in 2018, posted on Instagram that he plans to make a comeback and return “stronger than ever.”
“I had a procedure done on my elbow earlier this morning and everything went very well,” Ohtani said. “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.”
Ohtani, an MVP frontrunner from the jump this season, left an Aug. 23 start early, and it was later revealed that he had an elbow injury.
Despite that, he suited up as a designated hitter in Game 2 of the Angels’ doubleheader that day.
He continued to hit on and off in the lineup until Sept. 3, which marked his last game.
On Sept. 16, Ohtani’s locker had been cleaned out, and the Angels later announced his season was done with an oblique injury.
On the mound, Ohtani had a 3.14 ERA with 167 strikeouts over 132 innings while crushing 44 homers with a 1.066 OPS as a hitter.
He’s set to become a free agent after the season in what will likely be the most intriguing storyline of baseball’s hot stove.
Though Ohtani’s days with the Angels could be over, Los Angeles GM Perry Minasian said over the weekend that he hopes the Japanese star will return.
“He’s a pretty special guy,” Minasian said. “He’s a pretty special player. It’s been a pleasure to have a chance to get to know him over the last three years, and hopefully he’s here for a long time.”