If Shohei Ohtani (Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim) can’t pitch due to Tommy John surgery, we might get to see him play as a fielder.
Ohtani started the first game of the Angels’ 2023 Major League Baseball doubleheader against the Cincinnati Reds at Angel Stadium in Anaheim, California, on April 24 (ET) and went 1 1/3 innings with one strikeout and two walks before leaving the game. The reason: injury.
Ohtani started the game as usual, racking up strikeouts and holding the Cincinnati bats to a triple play, but in the top of the second inning, facing Christian Encarnacion-Strad, he felt something not quite right and voluntarily left the game.
The only thing that was different about that pitch was that it didn’t have any velocity. In Cincinnati, Ohtani’s fastball only reached 94.4 mph (152.9 km/h), and his lowest velocity was only 90.9 mph (146.3 km/h), while his average velocity (93.1 mph) also dropped. It wasn’t without its anomalies.
Shortly after Otani was pulled, the Angels announced the reason as “arm fatigue. However, the diagnosis was a bit more serious. His right elbow ligament (UCL) was torn. A torn elbow ligament is a very serious injury that can lead to what baseball fans know as Tommy John surgery. One surgery is enough to prevent a pitcher from returning to the mound, and if he does, he’ll be out for at least a year.
The first player who comes to mind when I see the term “Tommy John surgery” is the Korean Monster, Hyun-jin Ryu (Toronto Blue Jays). Ryu had been suffering from forearm pain for the past year, and after undergoing a medical examination, it was determined that he needed Tommy John surgery, and he only returned to the big leagues in the past two days after a lengthy rehabilitation of more than a year.
At this point, Ohtani and the Angels have not decided if he will have surgery. General manager Perry Minasian told reporters after both games of the doubleheader on April 24 that he will consult with the Angels after he receives a second opinion. However, Ohtani is no longer pitching this year. Although he suffered a major injury, he will be cross-checked as he may be treated with injections depending on the severity.
It is doubtful that he will continue to play as a hitter. However, Ohtani continued to bat in Game 2 despite knowing that he had a torn elbow ligament after leaving Game 1 on April 24. He returned to the lineup against the New York Mets on Saturday, going 1-for-2 with a home run, a run scored, and three RBIs to help the Angels win.
For the Angels, whose postseason hopes have been dashed, Ohtani’s injury isn’t a huge blow. But for Ohtani as an individual, who won the American League MVP title in 2021 and is on pace to win the MVP and home run titles again this year, increasing his value ahead of free agency, a torn elbow ligament is a huge blow.
Local media in the U.S. have been reporting on how much this injury will affect his price tag. Some media outlets are predicting that if he undergoes surgery, it will have a major impact on his ‘price’ as he will be out for a long time, while others are saying that even if he is unable to take the mound for a while, he will still be able to get a contract of $400-500 million (5308-6635 billion won) because he is highly valuable as a ‘hitter’.
The American publication The Athletic offered the latter reaction, suggesting that the New York Mets could be in the mix for Ohtani. “For the New York Mets and their fans, Ohtani shows value in the face of injury uncertainty,” the publication wrote, “Ohtani would transform any lineup, including the Mets’. He leads the league in home runs (44), on-base percentage (.405), and slugging percentage (.664), and has 17 doubles and a .304 batting average. Those are incredible numbers without even pitching.”
The reason why the injury is unlikely to affect Ohtani’s price tag is because of the additional revenue that could come with it, but also because of his performance as a hitter. “Never mind all the revenue the team could get from endorsements, in-stadium advertising and merchandise,” The Athletic wrote. Sure, a businessman like Steve Cohen (Mets owner) might see value in that, but it’s a testament to Ohtani’s talent.”안전놀이터
There’s also a “possibility” and a “condition” here. That is, Ohtani’s ability to play baseball. While playing for the Nippon Ham Fighters in Nippon Professional Baseball, Ohtani often played the outfield in order to get at-bats. The Athletic reports, “If Ohtani can’t pitch, he could be forced to play defense. “A senior major league official said without hesitation that Ohtani’s speed and athleticism make him an above-average fielder,” The Athletic added, “so a team like the Mets might not spend money on a designated hitter if he can’t pitch.