Los Angeles Angels two-way start Shohei Ohtani had been hinting at the need for a potential elbow procedure ever since he was diagnosed with a tear in his UCL and was ruled out for the season as a pitcher on Aug. 23. The only clarity lacking on the entire situation was whether or not the surgery Ohtani needed was Tommy John surgery.
Tommy John is the common name for a UCL reconstruction that typically occurs after a tear of the ligament. Ohtani underwent Tommy John in 2018 and would not return as a full-time pitcher until 2021, his first MVP season — he’s on track to win his second this season.
Ohtani underwent surgery on Tuesday, shortly after it was announced that he would not return as a hitter for the remainder of the 2023 season as well due an oblique injury. And in the statement, Dr. Neal ElAttrache explained that Ohtani did not need a complete reconstruction of the ligament.
“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 agent Nez Balelo. “I expect full recovery and he’ll be ready to hit without any restrictions come opening day of 2024 and do both (hit & pitch) come 2025.”
Ohtani avoiding a second Tommy John surgery would certainly be a big victory, as the history of players returning to form after a second reconstruction is very slim. L.A. Dodgers ace Walker Buehler was just ruled out for the remainder of 2023 as he recovers from his second TJ surgery. Experts remain unclear if this statement means Ohtani avoided Tommy John.
Regardless, ElAttrache announced that Ohtani is unlikely to pitch in 2024 and will be back to two-way form for the start of the 2025 campaign. Teams were anxiously awaiting an update of this nature as Ohtani enters free agency this offseason.
Signing Ohtani means, according to his surgeon, getting an elite designated hitter in 2024 and then the potential of a unanimous MVP caliber two-way player the following season. It remains to be seen how this news will affect Ohtani’s market. He was at one time believed to be in line for a $500 million contract.
Phil Nevin: it would mean the world for Ohtani to return
Angels manager Phil Nevin spoke about Ohtani’s impending free agency and whether or not a return to the Angels is still in the cards. Nevin did not have clarity, but said it would mean the world if Ohtani did return. He also said he’s aware that all 30 Major League teams would like to employ the two-way superstar.