Shohei Ohtani needs Tommy John surgery if he ever wants to pitch again. But that didn’t stop him from having a great night on Wednesday.
Facing the Texas Rangers, Ohtani went 4-for-4 with two home runs, a walk and a stolen base. “New damage” to his UCL prompted the organization’s doctors to recommend surgery. However, he can continue to hit if he chooses to hold off on surgery. That said, there’s every indication that Ohtani wants to continue being a two-way player. After all, he’s really good at it.
At the plate (279 PA), he’s slashing .287/.367/.579 (.946 OPS) with 16 doubles, 18 dingers and seven stolen bases. On the mound, he has a 3.31 ERA, 3.60 FIP and 3.60 DRA while striking out nearly 30% of opposing batters. However, continuous elbow injuries have limited him to just 10 starts.
“He made a commitment to us, and he trusted us,” GM Billy Eppler said via ESPN’s Alden Gonzalez. “He trusted that we would use him in a two-way role, and we made that commitment. When you commit to somebody, it makes it hard to walk away from them, or it makes it hard to change course on them…”
That said, Eppler seems to be staying the course. They “…still see [Ohtani] as a two-way player,” he adds.
This past weekend, Ohtani joined Babe Ruth as the only MLB players to log 50 innings and slug 15 home runs in the same season. In other words, we haven’t seen a player like this in many, many years. We may not see a player like this for many more years to come. But the Angels need to make a decision. Clearly Ohtani is still able to hit. So it depends on what they want, and on what the player wants.
In the meantime, don’t stop appreciating how special he is. Just hope he can get himself healthy.