Agent: Shohei Ohtani plans to continue to be two-way player

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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Shohei Ohtani remains to be evaluating medical opinions on the tear in his ulnar collateral ligament, however his agent, Nez Balelo of CAA, made two issues clear Monday afternoon: Ohtani shall be able to at the very least hit firstly of subsequent season, no matter how for much longer he continues to play in 2023, and he’ll stay a two-way participant down the street.

“There’s not a query in his thoughts that he is gonna come again and he is gonna proceed to do each,” Balelo advised a big contingent of reporters from his suite at Angel Stadium, marking the primary time he or Ohtani have addressed the media since his tear was revealed Aug. 23.

Ohtani will proceed to hit for the foreseeable future — although he was a late scratch from Monday’s lineup with what the Los Angeles Angels described as proper indirect tightness — however Balelo did not decide to him hitting the remainder of the season.

Balelo acknowledged that Ohtani, who will quickly be probably the most outstanding free brokers in baseball historical past, will ultimately endure “some sort of process,” a listing that might seemingly embody Tommy John surgical procedure — the usual UCL substitute that might maintain him off a mound all through the 2024 season — or a non-invasive therapy that makes use of stem cells and platelet-rich plasma in an effort to strengthen the ligament. A comparatively new, less-invasive bracing process additionally has been popularized in recent times, although it’s unclear whether or not Ohtani is a candidate for that.

In coping with a earlier UCL tear, Ohtani underwent stem cell and PRP remedy in June 2018 in hopes of avoiding surgical procedure, then discovered he wanted Tommy John lower than three months later and underwent the process on Oct. 1 of that yr.

Ready till then saved Ohtani from serving as a delegated hitter till Might of the next season. However Balelo expressed confidence that will not be the case this time round, including that the latest tear is on the bottom extremity of his UCL, closest to the ulna and radius bones, whereas the tear 5 years in the past was on the highest extremity, hooked up to the humerus.

“It is utterly totally different,” Balelo mentioned, including that the graft from his preliminary surgical procedure is “all collectively, all intact, no issues. All the things seems to be good.”

Balelo mentioned docs advised him the present tear is “the best-case situation for the scenario we’re in,” although he did not present any indication on a plan of action or a return to pitching.

“Shohei’s gonna be high quality,” Balelo added. “Is he gonna pitch the remainder of the yr? No. We already know that. Is he gonna get into subsequent yr? We do not know but. So simply bear with me on that. However I do know this — it doesn’t matter what timetable we’re coping with and after we get this executed, Shohei’s gonna be in any person’s lineup subsequent yr, DH’ing when the bell rings. We all know that. We’re not gonna push that. He is gonna be good to go.”

Ohtani served because the Angels’ designated hitter for many of 2018 and all of 2019 and struggled to each pitch and hit throughout the COVID-19-shortened 2020 season. However he emerged as a two-way drive the next yr, successful the American League MVP Award unanimously in 2021 and ending second to Aaron Choose, who set the AL house run report, in 2022. The 2023 MVP is all however sure to be his, regardless that the Angels are trending towards their eighth consecutive shedding season.

Ohtani entered the Angels’ most up-to-date homestand main the majors in OPS (1.066), homers (44) and triples (eight) whereas including 20 stolen bases. He completed his season as a pitcher with a 10-5 report, a 3.14 ERA and 167 strikeouts in 132 innings. Ohtani’s final begin got here on Aug. 23, when he exited within the second inning of a doubleheader and later underwent the MRI that exposed the tear. Ohtani nonetheless opted to hit within the second recreation of the doubleheader and continued to hit throughout the Angels’ ensuing street journey by way of New York, Philadelphia and Oakland.

“This man loves the sport,” Balelo mentioned. “When he came upon that there is nothing that he can do to create any extra harm than what’s already been executed, he was like, ‘I am gonna play this factor out till we collect extra data to make the suitable resolution.’ That is the place we’re at as of at this time.”

Ohtani skipped the beginning that preceded his final outing with what was described as arm fatigue and had been battling intermittent bouts of cramping and fatigue in prior weeks, prompting questions round whether or not the Angels might have prevented the tear or at the very least caught it sooner. Angels normal supervisor Perry Minasian advised reporters final week that Ohtani and Balelo declined an MRI after his Aug. 3 begin towards the Seattle Mariners, when he complained of finger cramps. Balelo confirmed these particulars, including that Ohtani homered later in that recreation and made his subsequent scheduled begin, throwing 97 pitches.

“It was only a fast suggestion,” Balelo mentioned. “Considered it, talked to him, the whole lot was good. It did not warrant it in any respect.”

Ohtani just isn’t anticipated to deal with the media any time quickly. Balelo would not get into what forms of contracts he’ll pursue in free company or Ohtani’s possibilities of re-signing with the Angels, however he mentioned the participant’s relationship with the crew hasn’t been strained by latest developments. As was the case when he continued to hit by way of a Grade 2 tear for the final three and a half months in 2018, docs have advised Balelo that Ohtani cannot do any additional harm to his UCL by persevering with to function the Angels’ DH.

“He can elevate, he can run, he can slide, take violent swings,” Balelo mentioned. “He can do something he needs proper now. It does not have an effect on the issue in query. We’re good. No matter we determine to get executed, now we have to take into accounts subsequent yr. The best way the timetable goes to play out, he is gonna be high quality when the bell rings in ’24.”

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