Days before a 10 game series with the New York Mets, every baseball fan is devastated about what happened to Shohei Ohtani. The Los Angeles Angels pitcher may have a hurdle to go through after news broke about his elbow injury.

Ohtani joined The Los Angeles Angels in 2018 and earned the 2018 American League Rookie of the Year Award. He suffered a torn ulnar collateral ligament that led him to have Tommy John surgery the same year. Nevertheless, he still persisted and was awarded the 2021 American League Most Valuable Player Award.

Aaron Judge, NY Yankees

Aaron Judge #99 of the New York Yankees looks on during the third inning against the Seattle Mariners at T-Mobile Park on May 31, 2023 in Seattle, Washington.

So what happened to Shohei Ohtani and how will this injury affect the rest of his career? Read more to find out.

What happened to Shohei Ohtani?

Shohei Ohtani #17 of the Los Angeles Angels throws against the Cincinnati Reds in the first inning during game one of a doubleheader at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on August 23, 2023 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

What happened to Shohei Ohtani? Shohei Ohtani suffers from an ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) tear in his right elbow. Ohtani was pulled from his start against the Cincinnati Red on August 23, 2023 after arm fatigue He will not be pitching for the rest of the season.  He ended 10-5 with a 3.14 ERA and 167 strikeouts in 132 innings.

“A tough day for him,” Angels General Manager Perry Minasian said in a press conference. “Tough day for all of us.”

“We did imaging between games and he does have a tear, and he won’t pitch the rest of the year,” he continued. “We’re going to get a second opinion and go from there. It’s basically day-to-day. Obviously, he hit. But that’s where we’re at.”

Minasian also noted that it was the first time the team heard of his injury. “He never complained about anything; he just had cramps and was dehydrated. But today was the day he came out of the game and said he had some pain in the elbow area. Today was the first day we’d heard of it.”

Minasian praised his starting pitcher and has high hopes for his future plays. “If I was to bet on anybody bouncing back, he would be the guy,” said Minasian, who didn’t know the grade of Ohtani’s ligament tear. “I believe he’ll be back and he’ll be able to do both again at a very high level.”

Ohtani did not speak to press after the game, but Minasian assured that he’s still in it to win it. “He’s a pro,” Minasian said. “Didn’t faze him. ‘Am I OK to play tonight? I want to play tonight.’ He’s a mentally strong individual. To do what he does, you have to be. How he handled it and the fact that he played, to me, is beyond impressive.”

Surgery details of Ohtani’s injury have not been discussed publicly yet. Since he received a Tommy John surgery in 2018, it’s likely that the second Tommy John surgery will significantly affect his playing ability. According to Hopkins Medicine, a Tommy John surgery is when tunnels are drilled in the ulna and humerus to secure the new tendon (graft). Remnants of the original ligament may be attached to the graft to strengthen it. After a Tommy John surgery,  the rehabilitation can take nine months to a year, and sometimes longer. 

“I think he needs time to wrap his head around it, talk to the people close to him,” Minasian said. “We’re in the process of getting second opinions. Once the information is there, he’ll make the right decision on what he wants to do, and we’ll support him, whatever he decides. … I wouldn’t be surprised if he’s in New York and he’s in the lineup. I know how bad he wants to play.”

Shohei Ohtani #17 of the Los Angeles Angels looks on from the dugout before the game against the Cincinnati Reds at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on August 22, 2023 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Meg Oliphant/Getty Images)

“Our relationship over the last three years is based off communication and trust,” the GM continued. “We trust him. He trusts us. We listened to him. He knows his body. He knows where he’s at.”

Though he’s out of commission for pitching, there’s still possibility that Ohtani can still play at bat. “You need your hands to hit,” Minasian said. “It’s a significant injury that he’s coming back from, and the last thing you want is (for) him to start compensating for his hand and doing other things and hurting other body parts.”

The injury comes at a crucial crossroad for Ohtani. The baseball player is set to be a free agent after the sesason. He’s likely headed toward securing the largest contract in Major League history, but the injury and subsequent surgery could prevent him from being on the mound and lose value on his future contracts. 

“There’s a lot of questions,” Mike Trout said about his teammate’s free agency decision. He is also on the Angels’ injured list for at least 10 days to aid his recovery from surgery on a broken bone in his hand “The whole Shohei situation — I don’t think anybody knows what he’s feeling or what he’s thinking. It’s ultimately gonna come down to what he thinks and what he feels, and he’s gonna do what’s right for him and what he feels is right. I see him on a daily basis, obviously. He’s coming in every day. He looks like he’s enjoying it and feels comfortable. But I don’t know. It’s gonna be a tough go this winter. You never know what’s gonna happen. There’s gonna be a lot of teams out there wanting him. Who wouldn’t?”

He continued, “But you can’t predict what’s gonna happen in the future. You just gotta look at what’s in front of you.”

“I would never put any limitations on players in general, and especially him,” Minasian said. “He’s shown it’s possible to do it and excel at it. I expect him to bounce back and do what he needs to do to get back to where he was.”

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