Shohei Ohtani’s agent gives interesting update on his pitching future and likely role in 2024 season

Shohei Ohtani’s agent Nez Balelo spilled a lot of tea on Monday about his client’s latest elbow injury, his outlook as a pitcher, and what he will be able to do for the Los Angeles Angels or perhaps a different team in the 2024 MLB season.

Despite the Angels throwing up the white flag on another failed campaign to reach the playoffs in 2023, MVP candidate Shohei Ohtani remains one of the biggest stories in the sport. The Japanese star is one of the most gifted talents the league has seen in a century and could land a historic contract in MLB free agency this winter.

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However, in August it was revealed by the team that the two-way player had a tear in the UCL ligament in his pitching elbow. Such injuries often lead to athletes requiring Tommy John surgery. That in itself is horrifying news for a pitcher, but this would be the second time the 29-year-old could undergo the procedure after having the same surgery in 2018.

Since the revelation, Ohtani and his camp have been quiet about what will be next with his historic free agency looming. Well, on Monday his agent broke the silence and revealed some interesting new information about the unfortunate injury to the three-time All-Star.

Shohei Ohtani stats (2023): .304 AVG., .412 OBP., .654 SLG., 44 HR, 95 RBI, 102 R

shohei ohtani

When it comes to the UCL tear, Balelo claimed it is different than the one he suffered five years ago. That repair is still in good shape, and this new tear is located in a sport where it is actually a “best-case scenario.”

“Multiple doctors looked at this and said this is the best scenario for the situation that we’re in. You take that and run with it. With that said, we feel very optimistic and very confident that moving forward, things are going to be fine. Again, the message that I want you to share out there in the community, the industry, and the world, is that we’re going to be fine. Shohei’s going to be fine. Is he going to pitch the rest of the year? No. We already know that. Is he going to get into next year? We don’t know that.”

– Nez Balelo

Shohei Ohtani’s agent did admit that while he expects him to return to his normal pitching excellence at some point, a procedure will still be necessary. But he did not guarantee it would be Tommy John.

Now, with pitching in 2024 highly unlikely, what will his role next season be for his current team or a new one after he makes his choice in free agency? It seems with his arm still compromised post-surgery, the Japanese phenom will likely be a very expensive hitter in 2024.

“No matter what timetable we’re doing this and when we get this done, Shohei is going to be in somebody’s lineup next year DHing when the bell rings,” Balelo said. “We know that. We’re not going to push that. He’s going to be good to go. That’s where it’s at.”

It will be very interesting what sort of offers Shohei Ohtani receives from teams this winter with his ability to still be a dominant two-way player in the future unclear.

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