“Elbow surgery or not,” Ohtani hesitates, 50 homers, 25 doubles on the horizon…free agency could not come at a worse time

  • September 2, 2023

It’s been nearly 10 days since Los Angeles Angels pitcher Shohei Ohtani injured his elbow.

Ohtani started the first game of a doubleheader against the Cincinnati Reds on March 24 (ET) and left the game in the second inning with pain in his right elbow. An MRI immediately followed, which revealed a torn ligament, team president Perry Minassian told local media.

However, there has been no word from Ohtani or the Angels on whether he will need surgery. “We’re waiting for a second opinion from the medical staff,” Minassian said.

If a player is diagnosed with a UCL (medial collateral ligament) tear, it is common for them to undergo a Tommy John surgery (TJS). However, Ohtani hasn’t cleared the air on the surgery and continues to play as a designated hitter. What’s interesting is that he’s still going strong as a hitter despite the ligament damage.

Ohtani hit a line drive double to right field in the second game of a doubleheader the day he tore the ligament and scored a run, and in the team’s last seven games against the Philadelphia Phillies, he was hitting .333 (9-for-27) with four doubles, five RBIs, and seven walks. It’s hard to believe this is coming from a player with an injured elbow.

Local reports are cautiously predicting that Ohtani will receive a TJS sometime this month, but if his hitting remains unaffected, he’ll likely be forced to play through the end of the regular season, because he’ll hit the free agent market. It’s in every athlete’s interest to perform to the best of their ability and command the price they want.

But if it’s a surgery he’s going to have to have at some point, and he wants to get back to pitching as soon as possible, he can’t afford to delay it.

In an article titled “Why is Ohtani still hitting as the time to decide on TJS approaches?” by Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, a local publication, Ohtani gave three reasons for delaying the surgery.

The first is that Ohtani is having a career-high season as a hitter this year and wants to keep hitting at full strength until the end of the season. The American League (AL) MVP is a lock, and he’s on pace to surpass the most home runs in a season in Angels franchise history (47) and become the first player in franchise history to hit 50 home runs and 25 doubles.

The second is that he received his first TJS in the fall of 2018, when he made his major league debut. He’s hesitant because he knows that a second TJS is a much longer and harder rehabilitation.

The third is that he wants to be ready to hit in the season opener next year. If he gets TJS, he won’t be able to start next year. That would make him less valuable in free agency, and it’s unclear if he’d be able to rebuild his career as a pitcher.온라인바카

All three reasons are valid and convincing, and they may be what Ohtani is actually thinking about.

Rosenthal concluded: ‘As usual, Ohtani is trying to win it all, and he probably will. But the odds are against him. A torn ligament is an injury that requires reconstructive surgery, and while Ohtani and the Angels are weighing all possibilities and options, it is unlikely that a decision will be made right away.

Ohtani himself and his agent, Nez Valero, have not commented since the elbow ligament injury was discovered. All anyone can do is speculate. In fact, I’m sure there’s a lot of worry. The timing of the injury is the worst. It’s a serious, life-threatening injury just over a month before the end of the season.

Rosenthal writes that “nothing is clear about the nature of Ohtani’s tears, why he continues to play, or his motivation after becoming a free agent. It’s a troubling time for Ohtani, and one that only he can deal with, as his season-ending MVP run has quietly come to an end.

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