Los Angeles Angels’ phenom Shohei Ohtani won’t let the recent right ulnar collateral ligament tear he suffered affect his short-term and long-term baseball plans. According to Ohtani’s agent Nez Balelo, the 29-year-old plans to play as a hitter in 2024 while also returning to pitching as soon as he’s ready.
Ohtani suffered a torn UCL in his right elbow in August and will undergo “some type of procedure” after gathering all medical opinions. A potential Tommy John surgery, which would be the second for Ohtani since arriving to MLB in 2018, would rule him out as a pitcher for the entire 2024 and possibly longer.
Some analysts believed the long recovery period and a smaller chance of success could cause Ohtani to give up on pitching, but Balelo made it clear that this isn’t an option.
“There’s not a question in his mind that he’s going to come back, and he’s going to continue to do both,” Balelo told reporters on Monday.
Balelo added that Ohtani will be ready to play as a Designated Hitter for the Opening Day of the 2024 campaign.
“There’s not one thing he can’t do right now when it comes to DHing,” Balelo shared. “He can lift, he can run, he can slide, take violent swings. He can do anything he wants right now. It doesn’t affect the problem in question.”
Ohtani will be a free agent once the 2023 MLB season ends. He is expected to receive the largest contract in MLB history, although the numbers might not be as high as projected before the injury.