Shohei Ohtani injury: Agent says it is 'inevitable' Angels star will have surgery on torn elbow ligament

Shohei Ohtani injury: Agent says it is 'inevitable' Angels star will have surgery on torn elbow ligament

Los Angeles Angels superstar and pending free agent Shohei Ohtani was shut down from pitching last month after being diagnosed with partial tear in his ulnar collateral ligament. That's the Tommy John surgery ligament. For now, Ohtani has continued to hit, and uncertainty remains about the severity of his elbow injury.

Monday evening Ohtani's agent, Nez Balelo, said it is "inevitable" the two-way star will have "some kind of procedure" on his elbow, according to the Los Angeles Times. Balelo added the injury is the "best case scenario" because the original Tommy John surgery repair is intact, and the tear is in a different location.

"Shohei is going to be in somebody's lineup next year, DH-ing when the bell rings," Balelo told the Los Angeles Times and Associated Press. "... Shohei loves to pitch. There's not a question in his mind that he's going to come back and continue to do both."

A relatively new procedure -- an internal brace -- is an alternative to Tommy John surgery when the tear is located close to the bone. The internal brace procedure is much less invasive than Tommy John surgery and comes with a shorter rehab, though it still fairly lengthy. To be clear, it is unknown whether Ohtani will have the internal brace or a different procedure.

There is no such thing as a minor elbow surgery and Balelo implied Ohtani will not be able to pitch next season, or at least to start the season. He will be able to hit though, as was the case in 2019, after he had his first Tommy John surgery in Oct. 2018. Interested teams will surely factor Ohtani's surgery and initial inability to pitch into their free agent offers.

The 29-year-old Ohtani last pitched on Aug. 23. He finishes the season with a 3.14 ERA and 167 strikeouts in 132 innings as a pitcher. Ohtani is 9 for 30 (.300) in nine games as a hitter since being shut down as a pitcher. He is hitting .304/.412/.654 with an American League leading 44 home runs this season overall.

The Angels enter play Monday with a 64-73 record and 12 games out of a postseason berth. They have not made the postseason or even had a winning season with Ohtani. He has made it clear he intends to sign with a contender this offseason and that presumably rules the Angels out.

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