Shohei Ohtani undergoes elbow surgery, timeline for return to pitching revealed

Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani has already been shut down for the remainder of the 2023 season due to an elbow injury in his throwing arm. It was noted back in August that the impending free agent had suffered a UCL tear to said elbow.

While we’re not sure what type of surgery Ohtani underwent on Tuesday, an announcement came from his camp indicated that Dr. Neal ElAttrache did perform a procedure on Ohtani’s elbow. Per his agent Nez Balelo, Ohtani will be ready to hit by Opening Day of next season. However, he will not return to the bump again until 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.

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.”

Shohei Ohtani’s agent on plans after elbow surgery, via the Los Angeles Times

As noted above, it’s not yet sure whether Ohtani underwent Tommy John Surgery. That type of procedure typically sidelines pitchers for more than a calendar year.

Balelo had not previously indicated one way or another whether his client would undergo Tommy John. But he made it clear back in earlier September that a return to pitching next season likely wasn’t in the cards. So, this shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise.

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Shohei Ohtani surgery and impact on MLB free agency

MLB: Detroit Tigers at Los Angeles Angels
Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports

There is no real expectation that this procedure will have an impact on Ohtani once he hits MLB free agency during the winter. He’s still among the best hitters in the game (.304 average, 44 HR, 95 RBI, 1.066 OPS in 2023). Ohtani also isn’t going to shut it down from a pitching perspective moving forward in his career.

He is still looking at a contract of well north of $500 million with pretty much every big-market team reportedly in on the Japanese sensation. That includes the Los Angeles Dodgers, San Francisco Giants, New York Mets, New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, among other teams.

As for a potential return to the Angels, that doesn’t seem to be in the cards. Ohtani has made it clear that his goal is to win. Los Angeles entered action on Tuesday at 68-82 and is set to miss the playoffs for the ninth consecutive season.

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