Shohei Ohtani, the two-way sensation poised for a historic MLB contract this offseason, has a tear in his right elbow and won’t pitch again this season, the Angels announced.
Ohtani will get a second opinion on his injured ulnar collateral ligament (UCL), and it is unclear if he will need Tommy John surgery for the second time in his career, general manager Perry Minasian said.
“Obviously, disappointing news,” Minasian said. “I feel terrible for him, but it is what it is, and if anybody can bounce back, it’s him.”
Ohtani left during the second inning of his start Wednesday against the Cincinnati Reds, during which he struck out two batters and hit a home run. He underwent imaging on his elbow, then played in the second game of Wednesday’s doubleheader as the Angels’ designated hitter, going 1-for-5.
The 29-year-old leads MLB hitters with 44 home runs this season and pitched to a 10-5 record with a 3.14 ERA and 167 strikeouts over 132 innings. Minasian said he doesn’t know if Ohtani will continue to hit this year.
“He never complained about anything,” Minasian said. “He had cramps, he was dehydrated, but today is the day he came out of the game and said, ‘Hey, I’ve got some pain in the elbow area.’ That was the first day we heard of any type of pain.”
The hard-throwing Ohtani underwent Tommy John surgery in 2018 — his first season after leaving Japan to join the Angels — and didn’t pitch again until 2020. He continued to serve as the team’s designated hitter in 2019.
It is unclear how the injury will affect free agency for Ohtani, who was expected to command a record contract exceeding $500 million once his deal with Los Angeles ends after the season. The Yankees, who pushed hard to sign Ohtani before he chose the Angels, and the deep-pocketed Mets are among the teams believed to be interested.
The injury comes less than a month after the Angels took a risk by holding onto Ohtani instead of trading him for a haul before the Aug. 1 deadline. The Angels were 56-51 and three games out of the third and final American League Wild Card spot on July 31 but have gone 5-16 since then and entered Thursday 10.5 games back.
The Angels last made the playoffs in 2014. Their acquisitions before the trade deadline included starting pitcher Lucas Giolito and reliever Reynaldo Lopez from the White Sox, infielder Eduardo Escobar and reliever Dominic Leone from the Mets, and first baseman C.J. Cron and outfielder Randal Grichuk from the Rockies.
“I think this is the first time in my six years that we’ve been buyers,” Ohtani said in late July. “We’ve been sellers the last five years. So this is new to me. I just want to get to know the new guys and welcome them in and compete all together.”
Ohtani won the American League MVP in 2021 and is considered the favorite to do so again this season. He finished second in MVP voting last year behind the Yankees’ Aaron Judge, who slugged an AL-record 62 home runs.
A three-time All-Star, Ohtani has hit 171 home runs and pitched to a 3.01 ERA over his six MLB seasons.
The Angels also announced after Wednesday’s doubleheader that fellow superstar Mike Trout would return to the injured list after experiencing discomfort with his left hand. Trout, a three-time AL MVP, missed 38 games with a hamate fracture before returning Tuesday. He went 1-for-4 in his lone game between IL stints.
The Angels are set to begin a three-game series Friday against the Mets at Citi Field.