ANAHEIM, Calif. — Angels two-way superstar, Shohei Ohtani, has had a year unlike any other player in Major League Baseball, but that season came to an early end on Saturday morning. The Angels announced that Ohtani was placed on the 15-day IL with a right oblique injury and will miss the remainder of the 2023 season.
Ohtani missed his 11th straight game on Friday night due to oblique irritation, and after the Angels dropped the series opener against the Detroit Tigers, 11-2, reporters found his locker in the Angels clubhouse mostly packed up, save for a few items.
General manager Perry Minasian announced in a press conference ahead of Saturday’s game that Ohtani had an MRI done on Friday around 4 p.m. that showed “irritation” in his right oblique.
He clarified that it was “not a setback” from what Ohtani had been experiencing, but when they received the results around the first inning during last night’s game, they decided that the best course of action was to shut Ohtani down for the rest of the season.
Ohtani packed up his locker because he thought that there was a possibility to have a procedure done on Saturday to address the torn ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) in his right elbow, said Minasian.
However, the procedure did not happen today, and Minasian did not provide details about what type of procedure it would be and when it will happen.
“It’s nothing malicious. There’s no story here. It’s just him getting ready. He’s so focused on ‘The season’s over. I have to get ready for ‘24,’ and that was what his mindset was,” said Minasian.
Although he will not be playing, Minasian said Ohtani will continue to be around the team and has plans to be here for the final homestand. As for the upcoming road trip to Tampa Bay and Minnesota, Minasian said he didn’t know yet if Ohtani would be traveling with the team.
Up until yesterday, Ohtani had been working toward getting back on the field to compete in the final stretch of games, said Minasian.
Manager Phil Nevin added that Ohtani was taking swings in the batting cage yesterday before he asked to have another MRI done.
“He fought it. He tried. He really wanted to play. He’s upset by it, but it just got to a point where you understand that he wasn’t going to be able to go again this year,” said Nevin. “I saw him after he had swung in the cage, and it just didn’t feel right. He was heading to get his MRI, and he was disappointed knowing that they’re probably going to find something if they do and the fact that he just has to go through that again.”
The 2021 American League MVP first sustained the torn UCL injury pitching against the Cincinnati Reds on Aug. 23. Ohtani finished his season on the hill with a 10-5 record and 3.14 ERA on the season, starting 23 games and totaling 132 innings pitched. He threw 167 strikeouts and held batters to a .184 average.
While deciding what medical procedure would be best for the UCL tear, Ohtani continued in his role as designated hitter until Sept. 4 when he was scratched from the lineup against the Baltimore Orioles after taking an awkward swing during batting practice. From that point on, Ohtani missed 11 straight games, an uncharacteristic move for the player who had missed only two games this season prior to Sept. 4.
In the box, Ohtani has had the best offensive season of his six-year stretch with the Angels. In 135 games, the 29-year-old batted .304/.412/.654 with 44 home runs, eight triples, 26 doubles, 95 RBIs, 102 runs and 20 stolen bases.
Despite his season being cut short, Ohtani is still on track to be named the 2023 AL MVP for the second time in three years.
“He’s the MVP,” said Nevin. “I said it last year too. There’s no way that he’s not a unanimous choice this year. It’s impossible.”
In addition to the all the Babe Ruth comparisons, the Angels star has made an undeniably strong case for why he deserves the title this year, including winning consecutive AL Player of the Month Awards and throwing a complete, one-hit shutout in game one of a double header against the Tigers in July and then following that performance up with two home runs in the second game on that same day — and many, many more historic moments that have culminated to create a season unlike any other.
“He’s a pretty special guy. He’s a pretty special player. It’s been a pleasure to have a chance to get to know him over the last three years and hopefully he’s here for a long time,” said Minasian.
While Nevin and Minasian both expressed that they would love to see Ohtani in an Angels uniform next season and beyond, the two-way sensation’s future is uncertain as he will become a free agent after the 2023 World Series.