Shohei Ohtani undergoes surgery, expected to return to hitting in 2024, pitch in ’25

Shohei Ohtani has finally undergone surgery weeks after he suffered a torn UCL in his pitching elbow, but it’s unclear what kind of surgery he underwent. 

The Angels‘ two-way star had an operation Tuesday morning performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache at Kerlan & Jobe Orthopedic Clinic in Los Angeles, Ohtani’s agent Nez Balelo confirmed in a statement. The surgery is expected to allow Ohtani to hit by Opening Day in 2024 and return to pitching at the start of the 2025 season. 

“The ultimate plan after deliberation with Shohei, was to repair the issue at hand and reinforce the healthy ligament in place while adding viable tissue for the longevity of the elbow,” Dr. Neal ElAttrache said in the statement. “I expect full recovery, and he’ll be ready to hit without any restrictions come Opening Day of 2024 and do both (hit and pitch) come 2025.”

Following his operation, Ohtani wrote a message to his fans on Instagram. 

“I had a procedure done on my elbow earlier this morning and everything went very well,” Ohtani wrote. “Thank you very much for everyone’s prayers and kind words. 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. I will work as hard as I can and do my best to come back on the diamond stronger than ever.”

Ohtani was diagnosed with a torn UCL on Aug. 23. It marked the second time the righty tore the UCL in his pitching elbow in his MLB career, tearing it the first time during his rookie season in 2018. He underwent Tommy John surgery in September 2018 and returned to the mound during the COVID-shortened 2020 season. That operation was also performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache, who is the Dodgers’ head team physician. 

As Ohtani held off surgery for weeks, Balelo said that they came to the conclusion that Tuesday’s operation was the best decision for his career moving forward.

“The final decision and type of procedure was made with a heavy emphasis on the big picture,” Balelo said in a statement. “Shohei wanted to make sure the direction taken gave him every opportunity to hit and pitch for many years to come.”

Despite the UCL tear, Ohtani continued to hit, remaining in the Angels’ lineup until Sept. 3. He’s been out of the lineup since then due to an oblique injury. 

Ohtani leads the AL with 44 homers 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. He’s heavily favored to win his second AL MVP award this season even though he’ll miss most of the final month of the regular season.

Ohtani, 29, will become a free agent this offseason. He recently cleared out his locker at Angels Stadium as he’s reportedly expected to receive the biggest contract in MLB history. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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