ANAHEIM, Calif. — Things just don’t get easier for the Angels. If getting swept by the Reds and being a season-worst 6 games under .500 wasn’t bad enough, the Angels will now be without superstar Shohei Ohtani for the foreseeable future. In between Wednesday’s double-header, Ohtani had imaging done on his elbow that revealed a ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) tear in his right elbow. This comes after Ohtani hit a two-run home run in the bottom of the first inning before coming out of the game after recording just one out in the second inning. Ohtani had missed his last start due to arm fatigue, but Angels manager Phil Nevin said that Ohtani felt good during his latest bullpen and flat-ground and that Wednesday’s start would be a normal outing for him. It was far from normal as Ohtani’s velocity was noticeably down in the second inning from 94-96 miles per hour to 90-92 miles per hour. Nevin added after the game that Ohtani’s pitch shapes were off too and he knew something was wrong, leading him to take Ohtani out of the game.
After the second game, Angels general manager Perry Minasian informed reporters of the UCL tear and added that Ohtani will seek second opinions regarding his UCL tear then make a decision on what to do next. The Angels will fully support whatever decision Ohtani decides to make, but it remains clear that a second Tommy John surgery for Ohtani is likely going to occur at some point. If Ohtani does opt to get Tommy John surgery in the coming weeks, he may not be able to swing a bat for a while similar to what happened with Phillies star Bryce Harper last season. As of right now, Ohtani is still awaiting second opinions and will continue as the Angels designated hitter on the Angels upcoming roadtrip vs. the Mets and Phillies.
Will Ohtani still be paid like a two-way player with the intention that he returns to the mound in 2025 or will teams consider the physical exhaustion it takes to be an elite two-way player and expect him to focus more on hitting in the future with his pitching career in jeopardy? Nevertheless, whatever teams decide, it remains clear that the proposed $600+ million-dollar deal is likely off the table for Ohtani with too many questions about his arm health. This would be Ohtani’s second TJ surgery and unless teams are desperate to pay over half a billion dollars for a guy who may not pitch again, it won’t be happening. Despite all the Angels’ struggles in Ohtani’s tenure, there is no question Ohtani’s value has decreased with the news, and as a result, the Angels have increased their likelihood of signing him to a long-term deal. Ohtani chose Anaheim to begin his career and if the Angels offer him as much or perhaps more than other teams even with the recent news, they have an astronomically higher chance of signing him to a long-term deal now than before the injury.