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Good news everyone – Shohei Ohtani is expected to play baseball next year. The only question is, will the unicorn be limited to showing only his hitting skills?
On Monday, Ohtani’s agent, Nez Balelo, admitted what baseball fans have been worried about, that the 29-year-old Ohtani will most likely need elbow surgery this offseason after tearing his UCL while pitching against the Reds on August 23. However, it’s unclear if the procedure Ohtani opts for will be his second Tommy John surgery – which would all but guarantee he doesn’t pitch next year.
Balelo says that regardless what surgery the two-way player has, he does expect to at least lend a team his hitting skills as a designated hitter while allowing his arm to recover.
‘WE FEEL OPTIMISTIC… OHTANI IS IN GOOD SPIRITS’
Ohtani first had Tommy John surgery after tearing a ligament in his pitching elbow in 2018. He pitched only two games the following season with a disastrous 37.80 ERA. He didn’t start becoming “Ohtani’ until the following year when he went 9-2 and struck out 156 batters.
Balelo clarified to reporters on Monday that the positive news was that the injured ligament is not the same as the previous one that needed the Tommy John surgery.
“Multiple doctors looked at this and said this is the best-case scenario for the situation we’re in,” Balelo said. “The ligament itself and the graft that was put in with the ligament in 2018 is still intact, no problems. That’s a real positive to take away from this.”
OHTANI WILL DESIGNATE HIT NEXT YEAR
Balelo acting the role of Ohtani’s agent, wanted to calm the nerves of potential GM’s that will be bidding for the soon-to-be free agent.
“No matter what timetable we’re dealing with and when we get this done, Shohei is going to be in somebody’s lineup next year DHing when the bell rings… We know that. We’re not going to push that, and he’s going to be good to go.”
In an almost jinx-like scenario, as soon as Balelo said that, the Angels ended up scratching Ohtani from yesterday’s lineup with an oblique injury. Video shows Ohtani hitting a home-run in batting practice before then awkwardly swinging. It’s unclear if this is what led to the injury.
Ohtani is once again the frontrunner to win the AL MVP this year. And although he still may get a record-setting MLB contract, he may have lost more than $100+ million because of the elbow injury.