ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Los Angeles Angels star Shohei Ohtani underwent elbow surgery Tuesday and his doctor said he expects the two-time star to be available as an opening day hitter next season and return to the mound as a pitcher in 2025.
Ohtani tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow on August 23, ending his pitching season. He remained as a hitter until September 3 until an oblique strain.
Dr. Los Angeles Dodgers head team physician Neal ElAttrache operated Tuesday at the Cedars-Sinai Kerlan-Jobe Institute in Los Angeles. He said in a statement that the sides decided to “strengthen the healthy ligament in place,” suggesting the UCL had not been reconstructed via Tommy John surgery. ElAttrache also performed Tommy John surgery on Ohtani on October 1, 2018.
“I had a procedure done on my elbow earlier this morning and everything went very well,” Ohtani said in a post on Instagram. “Thank you so much for everyone’s prayers and kind words. It was a real shame that I couldn’t finish the year on the field, but I will stay behind the boys until the end. I will work as hard as I can and do my best to come back on the diamond stronger than ever.”
Nez Balelo, Ohtani’s agent, issued a statement released by the Angels. Balelo did not elaborate on the type of operation.
“The final decision and type of procedure was made with a strong focus on the big picture,” Balelo said. “Shohei wanted to make sure that the direction he was taking would give him every opportunity to hit and throw for many years to come.”
The 29-year-old Ohtani leads the AL with 44 home runs and has 96 RBIs, eight triples and 20 stolen bases. He was 10-5 with a 3.14 ERA in 23 starts, striking out 167 and walking 55 in 132 innings.
“The ultimate plan, after consultation with Shohei, was to repair the problem and strengthen the healthy ligament in place while adding viable tissue for the life of the elbow,” ElAttrache said in a statement released by the Angels. “I expect a full recovery and he will be ready to hit without any restrictions on Opening Day 2024 and both (hit and throw) in 2025.”
Ohtani will be eligible for free agency after the World Series. Before the elbow injury, it was speculated that he would get a recording contract worth $500 million or more.
Opening day next season is March 28, 191 days after Ohtani’s surgery. Philadelphia Phillies star Bryce Harper returned as a design hitter this season, 160 days after undergoing Tommy John surgery.