Shohei Ohtani tore his UCL and will not pitch again this season.
Angels general manager Perry Minasian told the media Wednesday that no decision has been made on Ohtani undergoing a second Tommy John surgery or how much he will hit for the rest of the season. Ohtani is reportedly seeking a second opinion regarding the surgery:
“It’s a tough day for him,” Minasian said. “Tough day for all of us.”
— Bally Sports West (@BallySportWest) August 24, 2023
Ohtani exited his start on the mound in the second inning Wednesday, with the Angels describing the issue as "arm fatigue." He was making his first start in two weeks after missing his turn in the rotation due to fatigue. He did not remain in the game as the Angels' designated hitter.
Ohtani's pitch velocity was the major red flag, as his numbers were significantly down across the board. His four-seam fastball was 3.8 mph slower than his season average
The news interrupts what has been a historically great season for the two-way phenom, who will likely remain the favorite for American League MVP by virtue of his production in the first four-and-a-half months of the season. The injury won't necessarily end his season, as he could continue to hit while awaiting surgery.
Shohei Ohtani facing second Tommy John surgery?
A torn UCL is typically treated with a UCL reconstruction, better known in baseball circles as Tommy John surgery. Ohtani underwent the procedure following his rookie season in 2018, which led to him appearing as a full-time hitter in 2019 before returning to the mound in 2020.
The Angels now face the prospect of a second Tommy John surgery for Ohtani, with the timing a particular concern. Ohtani was reported to have been recommended Tommy John in early September 2019, but he put off the procedure until Oct. 1 while he continued to hit for the Angels.
A second Tommy John typically requires a longer rehab than the first, with pitchers usually requiring at least a year and a few months to get back on the mound.
The Angels' season is effectively over, despite their betting on themselves as playoff contenders at the trade deadline and acquiring right-hander Lucas Giolito from the Chicago White Sox, among other deadline adds. The team holds a record of 61-67 and sits 10.5 games back of the third and final wild-card spot after getting swept in a doubleheader against the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday.
Shohei Ohtani was (and still could be) on verge of richest MLB contract ever
While the news is brutal for the Angels and pretty much every baseball fan who enjoyed watching an unprecedented performance, the biggest victim is obviously Ohtani himself.
The superstar's pending free agency was one of the biggest stories in baseball this season, with the richest teams in baseball expected to bid for his services. His excellence as a hitter and pitcher made it likely for him to surpass the record for MLB's richest contract, currently held by his Angels teammate Mike Trout's 12-year, $426.5 million deal.
Ohtani needing a second Tommy John surgery would likely upend some of those expectations, as going under the knife again would not only wipe out his 2024 as a pitcher but also change his long-term projections. It's not easy being a two-way player in baseball, and Ohtani's body might be showing why.
Still, Ohtani remains an elite hitter, with the MLB lead in homers with 44. Even if his value as a pitcher is downgraded, he should still see a massive payday this winter.