Angels' Star Shohei Ohtani Commits To Two-Way Play Despite Elbow Uncertainty

Photo: Instagram/Shohei Ohtani

Shohei Ohtani's agent, Nez Balelo, has affirmed the superstar's determination to continue his dual role as a pitcher and hitter with the Los Angeles Angels, even as he recovers from a recent elbow injury.

While acknowledging the likelihood of Ohtani needing a procedure to address a ligament tear in his pitching elbow, Balelo indicated they are still considering whether Tommy John surgery or a nonsurgical solution is the best course of action, especially with Ohtani's impending free agency.

Balelo emphasized that Ohtani has no doubts about his return as both a pitcher and designated hitter, a role he has successfully juggled in recent years. However, plans could shift if surgery is needed to prepare for the 2024 season, as Tommy John surgery typically entails a six to eight-month recovery period for hitters.

Photo: Instagram/Shohei Ohtani

Despite a recent late scratch from the lineup due to right oblique muscle tightness, Ohtani has been a consistent presence in the Angels' lineup this season, missing only two games. Balelo stated that they would continue to gather information before making any decisions that could affect Ohtani's future.

Ohtani is currently a frontrunner for his second AL MVP award in three seasons, having excelled both as a pitcher with 10 wins and as a hitter with a league-leading 44 home runs. However, his impending free agency and unique dual role have generated considerable intrigue in the baseball world.

Balelo did not rule out the possibility of Ohtani pitching in 2024 despite the injury, emphasizing Ohtani's commitment to staying active in some capacity. While speaking with reporters, Ohtani took the unusual step of participating in batting practice on the field, showcasing his impressive offensive prowess alongside his pitching abilities.

The tear in Ohtani's ulnar collateral ligament, discovered in late August, is in a different area from the one surgically repaired in 2018. Balelo emphasized that the previously repaired area remains strong, offering some encouragement in a challenging situation. Ohtani's love for pitching remains undiminished, even in the face of physical tolls on his body.

Balelo also dispelled rumors of any discord between Ohtani and the Angels, noting the club's supportive stance throughout the process. He defended Ohtani against claims of fatigue, highlighting his dedication to maintaining his peak performance and making decisions about his playing time based on his own assessment of his condition.

Balelo concluded by addressing Ohtani's future free agency, stating that he is not currently concerned about it. Despite the Angels' struggles, he remains focused on Ohtani's recovery and long-term well-being, confident that they will tackle free agency matters in due course.

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Source: AP News 

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