There are a lot of unknowns surrounding Shohei Ohtani.
What is known is that the two-way superstar was scratched from the Angels-Orioles matchup Monday with oblique tightness. That’s about where the known commodities end, though, as increasing injury concerns raise the question of whether Ohtani has played his last game with the Angels.
With Ohtani suffering a torn UCL, some doubts are cast over whether or not the Angels (or whomever Ohtani will be playing for next year) will get both Ohtani the pitcher and Ohtani the hitter. Ohtani’s agent didn’t exactly make the waters any clearer entering the waning weeks of the 2023 MLB season.
MORE: Can Ohtani still hit with a torn UCL?
Here’s the latest on Ohtani’s elbow, and what it may mean for him — and his next team — moving forward:
Shohei Ohtani injury update
On Sept. 4, Ohtani’s agent Nez Balelo made it clear that Ohtani is heading for a procedure, it’s just unclear what that procedure will be.
“I think it’s inevitable that there will be some type of procedure,” Balelo said on Monday. “What that procedure looks like, and when, and what type of procedure, is what we’re gathering right now. Clearly there’s been multiple opinions and we’re not just banking on one or two, we’re really trying to educate ourselves in this situation.”
Balelo also said that Ohtani’s UCL is torn, but it’s a different spot from his first UCL tear, on the opposite end of the ligament.
While Tommy John is on the table (it would be Ohtani’s second), The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal reports that another option would be something of a hybrid surgery, which would include a partial reconstruction and an internal brace. That would still keep Ohtani off of the mound for a long time, perhaps over a year.
MORE: How Bryce Harper made a miracle return from TJ surgery
The Athletic also reports that Ohtani’s clearest path to returning to a high-level pitcher would be to avoid hitting in 2024, but that may not be an option according to Balelo.
“There’s not one thing that he can’t do right now when it comes to DH-ing,” Balelo said. “He can lift, he can run, he can slide, he can hit, take violent swings, he can do anything he wants right now. It doesn’t affect the problem in question. … The way that the timetable plays out, he’s gonna be fine in 2024.”
All of that to say is that Ohtani’s 2024 season is still something of a enigma. The coming weeks should paint a much clearer picture for his path forward.