Shohei Ohtani will pitch again, hit next season; ‘procedure’ on injured elbow is inevitable

Shohei Ohtani’s agent Nez Balelo met with reporters Monday to discuss his client’s short- and long-term baseball future in the wake of a second UCL tear.

The two-way superstar intends to hit next season wherever he plays baseball, whether with the Los Angeles Angels or a new team. And he plans to return to the pitching mound as soon as he’s ready. Balelo added that Ohtani’s “spirits are high.”

“Shohei’s in a good place,” Balelo said. “His spirits are high. … I don’t want anybody to think that he’s not. … He’s gonna be fine. We all feel extremely positive based on the information that we’re getting that he’s gonna be fine.”

Balelo acknowledged that Ohtani needs “some type of procedure” on his injured throwing elbow. But he couldn’t say what the procedure will be or if it will be Tommy John surgery.

“What that procedure looks like and when and the type of procedure is what we’re gathering right now,” Balelo said, adding that Ohtani’s team is seeking several opinions.

Ohtani previously tore his UCL during his 2018 rookie season and subsequently underwent Tommy John surgery. The procedure sidelined him from the mound in 2019, but he played as a designated hitter that season, slashing .286/.343/.505 with 18 home runs and 62 RBI in 106 games. He’s continued to hit this season since his Aug. 23 UCL tear.

Shohei Ohtani is

Shohei Ohtani is “in a good place” and is gonna be fine” on the baseball field, according to his agent. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

Per Balelo, Ohtani will be ready to hit next season regardless of what type of procedure he has. Balelo made his comments as Ohtani prepares to embark on one of the most anticipated free agencies in baseball history.

“Shohei’s gonna be in somebody’s lineup next year DHing when the bell rings,” Balelo continued. … “There’s not one thing he can’t do right now when it comes to DHing. He can lift, he can run, he can slide, take violent swings. He can do anything he wants right now. It doesn’t affect the problem in question.”

Balelo provided details of Ohtani’s injury, telling reporters that his initial UCL repair remains intact and that the new tear is on a different part of the ligament. He described it as a “best-case scenario for the situation we’re in,” citing Ohtani’s doctors.

As for Ohtani’s long-term prospects, Balelo is confident that he’ll pitch again.

“There’s not a question in his mind that he’s gonna come back and he’s gonna continue to do both like we have the last few years,” Ohtani said.

Ohtani’s injury has put a damper on his upcoming free agency, which was anticipated as the most lucrative in MLB history. The Angels, meanwhile, have fallen well out of the postseason race after making moves at the trade deadline for a playoff push with designs on enticing Ohtani to stay.

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