Did Angels’ Shohei Ohtani Have A Second Tommy John Surgery?
Jul 25, 2023; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani (17) watches from the dugout in the second inning against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Angels star Shohei Ohtani is still on track to win his second American League Most Valuable Player Award, with his last being in 2021. But after being shut down in recent weeks, his season came to an end with the news he had undergone another surgery on his right elbow.

After being taken out of his Aug. 3 start against the Seattle Mariners, there was some concern over the cramping in his fingers. The team suggested Ohtani have imaging done on his arm, to which he reportedly declined, and his camp maintained their confidence in his production, which also continued.

But as the last month unfolded for Ohtani, his arm began to give him trouble, making surgery an inevitable outcome. Following the procedure on Tuesday, his management commented on his current health.

Dr. Neal ElAttrache, who performed the surgery, said in a statement released Tuesday by agent Nez Balelo that the procedure 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.”

With a critical free agency period upcoming, Ohtani’s outlook is fairly optimistic, but the nature of the surgery begs the question if he did indeed have a second Tommy John surgery, per Jeff Fletcher of the O.C. Register:

“If it was just a repair, the typical timeline would be six or eight months for a pitcher, and that would be during the 2024 season,” said Dr. Joshua Dines, a sports medicine surgeon at the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York. “The fact that they’re saying the 2025 season is sort of a 16- or 18-month recovery, and that speaks more to a full Tommy John reconstruction using a graft from somewhere to make a new ligament, even if you’re repairing whatever native ligament he had.”

Ohtani had his ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) repaired following the 2018 season to repair a tear on the same elbow. He was forced to miss the entire 2019 year, and with the abbreviated season coupled with other arm issues, he was limited on the mound in 2020.

If Ohtani had a second Tommy John, he joins a growing list of pitchers who have needed a second reconstruction on their throwing arm.

Shohei Ohtani won’t pitch until 2025 season

The fact of the matter is Ohtani’s availability as a pitcher won’t be brought into play until the 2025 season. His timeline for a return from this level of surgery needs a particularly careful approach.

The gloves can be taken off in due time, but given that Ohtani is not only a talented player, but a prized investment for whichever team signs him to a record-breaking contract. The Angels figure to be in the conversation, but the only thing their front office can do is join the bidding, hoping to get another go with the phenom.

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