Los Angeles Angels two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani’s 2023 season is officially over.
Persistent irritation in his right oblique as well as his previously diagnosed UCL tear has caused the team to shut him down, which caps off what has been yet another disappointing season for the Angels.
“I don’t have details on the procedure,” Angels general manager Perry Minasian said, “but obviously he wants to get that as quick as he can and start getting ready for ’24.”
Angels announce that Shohei Ohtani has been placed on the injured list with an oblique injury and will be out for the remainder of the season. pic.twitter.com/Jn3hpnZEx9
— MLB (@MLB) September 16, 2023
Despite this development, Ohtani, who will be a free agent at the end of the season, remains committed to continuing as a two-way player in the long-term.
His agent, Nez Balelo of CAA, had previously indicated that Ohtani intends to be prepared to hit “when the bell rings” for the start of the 2024 season.
The treatment options for Ohtani’s torn UCL include platelet-rich plasma and stem-cell therapy or surgical intervention, possibly involving Tommy John surgery or an internal bracing procedure, or a combination of these methods.
Any invasive procedure is likely to rule out Ohtani’s return as a pitcher in the 2024 season.
“Shohei – he’s one of a kind,” Minasian remarked. “Great player, great person. I think anybody that knows him, has a chance to talk to him, be around him – he’s a team guy.”
“He’s a pretty special guy, he’s a pretty special player, and it’s been a pleasure to get to know him these last three years, and hopefully, he’s here for a long time.”
Ohtani, 29, suffered an oblique strain during an unusual outdoor batting practice session on September 4, causing him to miss the subsequent 11 games.
Following the MRI on Friday, Ohtani’s locker at Angel Stadium was notably emptied, leading to speculation about his future, but Minasian clarified that it was simply due to Ohtani’s expectation of a potential procedure.
“I think in his mind, he thought there was a possibility for a procedure today, and that’s why he packed,” Minasian explained. “Nothing malicious. There’s no story here. He’s so focused on, ‘Season’s over, I gotta get ready for ’24,’ and that was what his mindset was.”
“He’s planning on being here for the last homestand. He’s going to be here today, tomorrow.”
Ohtani’s 2023 season was another spectacular one, making him a strong contender for the American League’s Most Valuable Player Award. He led the AL in various categories as a hitter, including home runs (44), walks (91), and total bases (325), while maintaining an impressive slash line of .304/.412/.654.
As a pitcher, he went 10-5 with a 3.14 ERA in 132 innings, striking out 167 batters and issuing 55 walks. Despite his dual role spanning only about five out of six months, Ohtani’s 9.0 FanGraphs wins above replacement easily topped the league.
Shohei Ohtani's 2023 was one for the ages. 👏 pic.twitter.com/i3uBA4nxPT
— MLB (@MLB) September 16, 2023
Nonetheless, the Angels are on the verge of their eighth consecutive losing season, setting a franchise record. Even with the presence of stars like Mike Trout and Anthony Rendon, injuries have plagued the team throughout Ohtani’s tenure, preventing them from making a significant impact in the regular season’s stretch run.
When asked about the possibility of re-signing Ohtani as a free agent, Minasian said: “That would be a question for him. But I think he really enjoys his time here. Obviously, he’s had three of the greatest – if not the greatest – years any player has ever had.”
“I think he enjoys his teammates and the area and the fan base and the organization. There’s a lot of trust and a lot of communication. I hope he’s here for a long time.”
Ohtani joined the Angels in December 2017 but has experienced injury setbacks throughout his tenure, including a previous UCL tear in 2018 that required Tommy John surgery.
After a challenging 2020 season, Ohtani embarked on a three-year stretch of remarkable performance, establishing himself as one of the most exceptional talents in baseball history.
“He’s a great player,” Minasian emphasized. “Great player that can do things on a baseball field that nobody else can do. As good of a player as he is, the thing I appreciate the most is the preparation part of it.”
“The want-to, the care. This is somebody that puts everything he has into it, and I have a ton of respect for that.”
Since August 9, Ohtani has not spoken publicly. His last full start before discovering his UCL tear occurred 14 days later. Despite his injury, Ohtani continued to be in the lineup, even while dealing with the oblique issue, demonstrating his unwavering determination to contribute to the team.
The decision regarding Ohtani’s elbow procedure will be made jointly between him and his representatives at CAA. The Angels have not been deeply involved in this process.
“There’s discussions, and once they lock something down, there will be communication,” Minasian said. “Sho and his group will handle that, determine what they wanna do and how they wanna do it, who they wanna do it with, and I respect that.”
“I’ll obviously have that information at some point. But definitely respect his decision.”
Now, it’s time for the $500 million question: Has Ohtani played his last game in an Angels uniform?
If so, where do you think he ends up?