‘Surgery’ Avoided, ‘Jackpot Contract’ Pursued? Good News for Ohtani: “Ligament Damage Is Real, But It’s Different”

“Ligament damage is real, but not like last time”

Ohtani won the unanimous American League MVP title in 2021 after going 9-2 with a 3.18 ERA in 23 starts as a pitcher and batting .257 with 138 hits, 46 home runs, 100 RBIs, 103 runs scored, 26 doubles, and a .965 OPS in 155 games as a hitter. Ohtani’s major league history-making performance with Idoryu was just the beginning.

메이저사이트Shohei Ohtani’s agent, Nezu Valero of CA Sports, held a press conference on May 5 (ET), according to Japan’s SporNichi Annex and multiple U.S. media outlets.

As a pitcher, Ohtani was even more dominant on the mound last season, going 15-9 with a 2.33 ERA in 166 innings over 28 games. As a hitter, he was a little less impressive, hitting .273 with 34 home runs, 95 RBIs, 90 runs scored, and a .875 OPS in 157 games. Aaron Judge (New York Yankees) proved to be more than a flash in the pan as he rewrote American League history with 62 home runs to win the MVP award for the second straight year.

Shohei Ohtani with the WBC team./Getty Images Korea

Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim./Getty Images Korea

Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim./Getty Images Korea

Ohtani’s value as a free agent after the 2023 season was high enough in the 2021-2022 season alone, but it peaked at the World Baseball Classic (WBC). His two-hit “Idoryu” performance led Team Japan to the trophy, and after the WBC concluded, local media in the U.S. speculated that Ohtani would receive an “unprecedented” $500 million (approximately $66.25 billion) jackpot contract.

This year, as Ohtani was racing toward his first home run title and second MVP award since entering the major leagues, he encountered an unexpected twist. On March 24, he took the mound for the first game of a doubleheader against the Cincinnati Reds, but was pulled after just 1⅓ innings in favor of a bullpen pitcher. Ohtani signaled to the dugout that he was feeling unwell while pitching and voluntarily walked off the mound.

The Angels initially cited “arm fatigue” as the reason for Ohtani’s departure, but a medical examination revealed a torn right elbow ligament (UCL). After game two of the doubleheader, Angels general manager Perry Minasian held a press conference to announce that Ohtani would no longer take the mound for the remainder of the season. There was talk of Tommy John surgery, though no decision was made. In the meantime, Ohtani’s agent held a press conference.

According to “SporNichi Annex,” Valero said, “I said I would get a second opinion and decide if surgery is necessary,” and when asked about his current status, he replied, “It hasn’t been decided yet what will be done. We’re not relying on one or two opinions,” he said, adding, “It’s true that there is (ligament) damage as Minasian said. But it’s different than last time.”

Valero continued, “Last time it was on the top, the innermost part. But this time it’s the lowest part. There’s a problem with the ligaments at the bottom, close to the bone. I think there’s been some misinformation about the ligament itself. I had a ligament transplant in 2018, and that side is fine and there are no problems. That’s a really positive thing,” he added. In other words, what the first examination showed was a damaged ligament and what further tests showed was a slightly different story.

Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim./Getty Images Korea

It’s still some time before a decision is made about surgery. “We’re gathering as much information as we can, and we have to make the right decision,” Valero said. We need time to do that. “There is no problem with Otani returning to the mound, and he will be an ‘idoryu’ for many more years to come,” Valero said. “We have many options. We need to check and think carefully to make sure the treatment is done correctly.”

Until the treatment is finalized, Ohtani will continue to play as a hitter. “When he found out he had a problem with his elbow, he took it well,” says Valero. He was professional and a gentleman. Playing in the second game of the doubleheader speaks to his humanity.” “This guy loves baseball. He’s going to play until we get more information.”

When asked about his future with the Angels and free agency, Valero said, “I can’t answer that question,” adding, “I’m not thinking about a long-term deal with the Angels, and I’m not thinking about free agency.”

Since Ohtani is a free agent, we can’t take Valero’s word for it. However, if what Valero said is “true,” Ohtani seems to have avoided the worst of the situation. There is a scenario where he doesn’t undergo surgery and heals and returns to the mound as fully and as quickly as possible. If this is the case, it’s possible that this injury won’t have a significant impact on his price tag.

Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim./Getty Images Korea

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