Rafu Wire Service and Staff Reports
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.– Angels star Shohei Ohtani underwent surgery on his right elbow Tuesday and is targeting a return to pitching in 2025 after spending one season as only a hitter, his doctor and agent said.
Ohtani took to Instagram to give an update after the surgery: “I had a procedure done on my elbow earlier this morning and everything went very well. Thank you very much for everyone’s prayers and kind words.”
Ohtani was shut down for the season after tearing the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow in late August and eventually landing on the injured list Saturday.
The right-hander had Tommy John surgery on his throwing arm in October 2018 after his Rookie of the Year season. It is not yet known whether the latest operation was the same procedure.
“Shohei is resting and in good spirits and excited to be on the road to recovery,” his agent, Nez Balelo, said in a statement. “I expect a full recovery and he’ll be ready to hit without any restrictions come opening day of 2024 and do both … come 2025.”
Ohtani, 29, is set to hit free agency at the end of this season.
His Instagram post went on to say, “I will work as hard as I can and do my best to come back on the diamond stronger than ever.
“It was very unfortunate that I couldn’t finish out the year on the field, but I will be rooting on the boys until the end,” he said, adding, “Go Halos!”
After his 2018 surgery, Ohtani played 106 games solely as a batter in 2019 and threw in just two games in 2020 before winning nine games and hitting 46 home runs in 2021. If he takes the same recovery path, Ohtani would be able to pitch as normal in 2026 when he will be 32.
His surgeon said Ohtani would make the start of the 2024 season as a batter, without restrictions.
Ohtani had 44 home runs and 20 stolen bases while going 10-5 with a 3.14 ERA and 167 strikeouts this season as the Angels’ top pitcher.
He leads the American League in homers and walks but his 132 innings pitched is short of the 162 needed to rank among qualified starting pitchers for the second straight season.
The winner of the AL’s 2021 MVP Award is a strong favorite to win again this season.
Ohtani had continued batting as designated hitter after his elbow issue surfaced, but not since experiencing right oblique tightness during a pregame batting practice session on Sept. 4.