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Shohei Ohtani undergoes elbow surgery, will only hit in 2024

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Shohei Ohtani underwent elbow surgery Tuesday, which will prevent him from pitching in 2024. (Photo Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports)

Shohei Ohtani undergoes elbow surgery, will only hit in 2024

Nearly a month after tearing his UCL in an Aug. 23 start where he recorded just four outs, Los Angeles Angels two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani underwent elbow surgery Tuesday, the team announced via a statement from Ohtani’s agent, Nez Balelo.

The exact type of surgery–performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache, who conducted Ohtani’s Tommy John surgery in Oct. of 2018–was not disclosed, though it will prevent Ohtani from pitching in 2024, limiting him to only hitting.

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,” Dr. ElAttrache said in the statement. “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, 29, officially shut down Saturday with an oblique injury he suffered last week, perhaps ending his Los Angeles Angels career since he’s entering free agency this winter.

Throughout most of the 2023 season, Ohtani was a frontrunner for the AL MVP before he was bit by these unfortunate injuries.

Nevertheless, Ohtani slashed an insane .304/.412/.654 — leading baseball in slugging percentage, OPS (1.066) and OPS+ (184) — with an American League-most 44 home runs and 91 walks. That came in addition to 26 doubles, eight triples (matching a previous career high in 2021), 95 RBIs and 20 stolen bases.

On the mound, Ohtani wasn’t as dominant–but he was really freaking good! He sported a 3.14 ERA (71 ERA-) despite a 4.00 FIP (91 FIP-), though he still sported an absurd 31.5 strikeout rate (94th percentile) and a 30.8 percent whiff rate (82nd percentile), according to Baseball Savant.

I had a procedure done on my elbow earlier this morning and everything went well. Thank you very much for everyone’s prayers and kind words.,” Ohtani said in an Instagram post, via translation. “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. Go Halos!!

Ohtani still enters the 2023 free agency with an unprecedented resume. While he likely won’t get $500 million, there will be myriad teams lining up to hand him at least $300-$400 million in what could be a record-setting deal, even if he can’t pitch for at least one year. You can’t help but wonder if he already played his last game in an Angels uniform, but, as always, time will ultimately tell.


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