ANAHEIM, California.- Shohei Ohtani He underwent an MRI on Friday afternoon that showed persistent irritation in his right oblique, prompting him to pause his hitting season and shift his focus to treating the torn ulnar collateral ligament that previously ended his pitching season. Los Angeles Angels general manager Perry Minasian said Saturday.

“I don’t have details on the procedure,” Minasian said, “but he obviously wants to do it as quickly as possible and start preparing for the 24th.”

Ohtani, who will be a free agent at the end of the season, plans to continue hitting and pitching in the future, and his agent, CAA’s Nez Balelo, previously said he will be ready to at least hit “when the bell rings” at the start of the season. 2024 season.

Ohtani could use platelet-rich plasma and stem cell therapy to treat the tear in his right ACL, but it seems more likely that he will go the surgical route, either with Tommy John surgery or an internal bracing procedure or some combination of both. . Any invasive procedures would likely rule Ohtani out as a pitcher in 2024.

“Shohei… is unique,” Minasian said. “Great player, great person. I think anyone who knows him, has the opportunity to talk to him, be around him, he’s a team guy. He’s a very special guy, he’s a very special player, and it’s been a pleasure.” “I got to know him these last three years and I hope he’s here for a long time.”

Ohtani, 29, suffered an oblique strain during a rare outdoor batting practice session on Sept. 4 and missed the next 11 games. He left Angel Stadium around 4 p.m. PT on Friday to undergo an MRI, Minasian said, and then received the results early in the Angels’ next game against the Detroit Tigers. Members of the media entered the home clubhouse at Angel Stadium later that night and discovered that Ohtani’s locker had been virtually emptied, creating a stir on social media that Minasian did his best to dispel during his news conference. press on Saturday.

“I think in his mind he thought there was a possibility of a procedure today, and that’s why he packed his bags,” Minasian said. “Nothing malicious. There’s no story here. He’s so focused on ‘The season’s over, I’ve got to get ready for the 24th,’ and that was his mindset. He’s planning to be here for the last homestand. He’ll be here today. , tomorrow.”

Ohtani put together another spectacular season and appears to have a chance to win the American League Most Valuable Player Award for the second time in three years. He hit .304/.412/.654 while leading the American League in home runs (44), walks (91), and total bases (325) as a hitter and went 10-5 with a 3.14 ERA in 132 innings as a pitcher. He struck out 167 batters and walked 55. Despite pitching and hitting for only five of six months, Ohtani’s 9.0 FanGraphs wins above replacement and easily leads the majors.

The Angels, however, are approaching their eighth consecutive losing season, which would set a franchise record. Despite also using mike trout and Antonio Rendonwho have been beset by injuries these past three years, the Angels haven’t even been relevant down the stretch of the regular season in their six years under Ohtani.

When asked about the chances of re-signing him as a free agent, Minasian said, “That would be a question for him. But I think he’s really enjoying his time here. Obviously, he’s had three of the best, if not the best.” – years that any player has had. I think he enjoys his teammates, the area, the fan base and the organization. There is a lot of trust and a lot of communication. I hope he’s here for a long time.”

The Angels, under then-general manager Billy Eppler and former manager Mike Scioscia, drafted Ohtani out of Japan in December 2017, but only gave him a half-season as a two-way player within the first two years. Ohtani was diagnosed with a grade 2 right ACL tear in June 2018 and was recommended Tommy John surgery in September after PRP and stem cell therapy didn’t work. He continued to hit until the end of the season and underwent Tommy John surgery in October, which kept him out of the lineup until May of the following season.

Ohtani struggled mightily as a two-way player during the COVID-19-shortened 2020 season, then put together a three-year run that will go down as one of the most impressive in baseball history. As a hitter, Ohtani hit .277/.379/.585 with 124 home runs, 290 RBIs and 57 stolen bases in 447 games. As a pitcher, he amassed 34 wins and posted a 2.84 ERA in 428⅔ innings, striking out 542 batters in the process. If it weren’t for a record home run season from Aaron judge in 2022, he would have won three consecutive MVPs.

“He’s a great player,” Minasian said. “A great player who can do things on a baseball field that no one else can do. No matter how good a player he is, what I appreciate most is the preparation part. The desire, the care. This is someone. That puts everything has in it, and I have great respect for that.

Ohtani hasn’t spoken publicly since Aug. 9, his last full start before learning of his UCL tear when he took the mound 14 days later. Ohtani learned of the injury shortly after an early exit from the first game of a doubleheader and was in the lineup for Game 2. He then accompanied the Angels on a three-city trip through New York, Philadelphia and Oakland, serving as the team’s designated hitter at all times. The oblique injury occurred hours before the first game of the next homestand.

Ohtani continually worked his way into the lineup, getting knocked out on a couple of occasions. Earlier this week, while the Angels were in Seattle, Minasian saw him in the batting cages “taking massive hits” to test the injury as much as possible.

“He wants to play,” Minasian said, “and that’s what we love about him.”

Ohtani’s elbow procedure will be decided between him and his representation at CAA. The Angels, who will technically be his employer for only two and a half more weeks, haven’t really been involved in that process.

“There are discussions, and once they close something, there will be communication,” Minasian said. “Sho and his group will take care of that, determine what they want to do and how they want to do it, who they want to do it with, and I respect that. Obviously I will have that information at some point. But I will definitely respect their decision.”


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