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Ohtani's Stellar Season Faces Uncertainty After Elbow and Oblique Injuries; Angels Await Official Announcement
After Friday's 11-2 defeat to the Tigers, Shohei Ohtani's locker appeared empty with a packed bag in front. However, the Angels mentioned that any official announcement will be made on Saturday.
Ohtani wasn't part of the Friday lineup against Detroit, although he had trained before the game aiming to participate. But due to a right oblique injury, he missed his 11th consecutive game. With a recent ulnar collateral ligament tear in his right elbow on August 23 – which likely demands surgery – Ohtani might opt to end his season early. It remains uncertain about the specific surgical procedure for Ohtani, especially since he underwent Tommy John surgery in 2018.
He sustained the oblique injury during a batting practice at Angel Stadium on September 4. Even though he was ruled out for that evening's match, further assessments only showed minor inflammation without any strain. Nevertheless, he skipped the next seven games of the Angels' home series. While Ohtani aimed for a comeback during the three-game series in Seattle, he was initially scheduled to play on Monday but was later pulled out.
Manager Phil Nevin expressed hope on Wednesday that Ohtani might be back for Friday's game after resting on Thursday. Unfortunately, that didn't materialize, with Randal Grichuk stepping in as the designated hitter for the series starter against Detroit.
"He's always eager to get on the field," commented Nevin before the team was finalized. "He's working through his challenges."
Interestingly, Ohtani's oblique issue coincided with the day his representative, Nez Balelo, addressed both local and Japanese press about the ligament tear in Ohtani's elbow. After sustaining the UCL tear during a game against the Reds on August 23, Ohtani won't be pitching this season. Though surgery seems probable, he might sidestep another Tommy John operation.
At 29, Ohtani is wrapping up a season that will go down as one of MLB's finest. Offensively, he's hit 44 homers, executed 20 steals, and tops the Major League with a 1.066 OPS and .654 SLG. Before his elbow setback, he maintained a 3.14 ERA, taking 167 strikeouts in 132 innings.