Shohei Ohtani says his final goodbye to the Angels as all his personal items of the top baseball player were missing, and his locker was almost empty.
The Angels did not provide any reason or update at that moment, making it seem like the star player had disappeared.
This unusual situation on Friday night could symbolize what might be Shohei Ohtani’s last stint with the struggling Angels, a team that has consistently failed to make it to the postseason for almost a decade.
The following gloomy Saturday afternoon, general manager Perry Minasian clarified the confusion from the night before:
Shohei Ohtani had an MRI scan for his hurt oblique at 4 p.m. PT on Friday. The results, which came back in the initial innings of the match, showed some persistent “irritation”.
This made Ohtani start thinking about his future and addressing the UCL tear in his elbow. This injury has stopped the dual-threat star from pitching since August 23.
With his 2023 season officially ended, Ohtani started packing up his belongings.
Will Shohei Ohtani leave the Angels?
As of September 17, 2023, Shohei Ohtani continues to be a part of the Los Angeles Angels. Nonetheless, due to recent happenings and ongoing rumors, there is a cloud of uncertainty hanging over his continued association with the team.
Minasian mentioned that there was a chance of a procedure happening today, which is why packing was done.
However, he clarified that there was no ill intent or hidden narrative behind this act. The sole focus was on preparing for the 2024 season, as the current one had ended.
He refrained from disclosing any specifics about the elbow procedure or its timing, except that Shohei Ohtani is eager to complete it as soon as possible.
The Angels’ general manager revealed that the team deliberately chose not to explain the reason for the empty locker on Friday to avoid distractions post-game. Unfortunately, this decision led to its own set of unnecessary disruptions in an already turbulent season.
The situation became even more peculiar when Shohei Ohtani returned to the stadium on Saturday night.
He was seen with his teammates in the dugout during the Angels’ fourth consecutive loss, which officially ruled them out of the competition.
This defeat marked another low point in a decade filled with disappointments. However, this instance was unique due to its potential impact on the future of one of the most exciting talents in baseball, who is approaching free agency.
There are concerns that Ohtani’s injury might affect the value of his next contract. Nevertheless, it is expected that his future employer will have to make a significant financial commitment, even if Ohtani requires a second Tommy John surgery in five years.
Are There Any Updates On Shohei Ohtani Injuries?
He underwent this surgery in October 2018 and returned as a designated hitter for the Angels in May 2019. It is hoped that he will be able to play as a hitter for his new team by the start of the next season.
The Angels, naturally, aspire to be that team. Their argument for Shohei Ohtani to stay is straightforward: stick to what is familiar.
Manager Phil Nevin expressed that Ohtani is aware of the team’s affection for him and the support from his teammates. He indicated that discussions regarding this matter would take place after the season concludes.
Minasian remarked that the player truly relishes his time spent here. It’s evident as he has experienced three of the most outstanding years in his career, arguably unmatched by any player in history.
He appears to find pleasure in the company of his teammates, the locality, the supporters, and the entire establishment.
There exists a strong bond of trust and open communication, which is hoped to keep him here for an extended period.
The sense of comfort is understandably heightened due to the independence he is granted. The Angels have accommodated the exceptional desires of their remarkable star, with both positive and negative outcomes.
In Anaheim, Ohtani is in control of determining his physical limits. He chooses the occasions when he communicates, limiting his interactions with the press to post-match discussions after games he initiates.
Although he last participated in a match on September 3rd and last made public statements a month before that, Shohei Ohtani enjoys a level of liberty unparalleled by any other player in the sport.
This is because he is a uniquely distinctive player. The Angels granted him self-rule, and in return, he infused them with optimism.
Shohei Ohtani Most Home Runs And Batting Average
His exemplary performance throughout the year positions him as the clear favorite for the MVP title, despite the likelihood of his absence for almost the entirety of September.
He has hit nine more home runs than any other batter in the American League. His batting performance surpasses the league average by 82%, and he is projected to conclude the season with a 1.066 OPS while recording 167 strikeouts in 132 innings.
Nevin asserted that it is improbable to ever again manage a player of such caliber.
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Shohei Ohtani’s Injuries
The production process was not without its challenges, including physical strain on Shohei Ohtani, who suffered from various ailments such as blisters, a cracked fingernail, and cramps in his legs and hand throughout the year.
These health issues often caused him to leave games early, despite his efforts to persevere.
In August, Ohtani’s start was delayed due to arm fatigue, and he later left the first game of a doubleheader because of the same problem.
Shohei Ohtani’s Torn UCL
Subsequent tests revealed a torn UCL, although the Angels’ team said Ohtani had not previously reported any elbow pain.
Last month, Minasian, a team representative, shared that the team had offered an MRI to Ohtani for hand cramps earlier, but he declined.
Despite the challenges, Ohtani played the second game of the doubleheader, even scoring a double, but the Angels ultimately lost, marking their ninth loss in 13 games.
As Ohtani considered his next steps and the Angels’ performance declined, he continued to play until he suffered an oblique strain on September 4.
He was keen to return in some capacity, and even in Seattle, with the Angels no longer in contention, Minasian noted that Ohtani was still practicing intensely. His dedication and determination were highly regarded by his teammates.
Patrick Sandoval, a pitcher, observed Ohtani’s preparation for games over five years and noticed how their interactions progressed from discussions about baseball to more casual conversations.
In the winter, Carlos Estévez, the closer, was pleasantly surprised by Ohtani’s sense of humor, and the two found common ground in their shared interest in anime.
Shohei Ohtani Empty Locker
Estévez was one of the few who knew about the events on a particular Friday afternoon when Ohtani started packing his things.
He expressed his respect to Ohtani for his efforts to return to the game and encouraged him to stay true to himself.
Others, like Sandoval, were more surprised by the situation after the game.
“It’s definitely strange to see everything gone,” Sandoval commented the following afternoon, adding, “I miss him.”
After all, the Angels are unsure about the duration of their time with the sensation who excels in two ways. The team faced a critical moment when Ohtani approached his physical limits.
This year was meant to be unlike the past. The moves made in the offseason seemingly provided the Angels with more depth than usual.
FanGraphs had forecasted a second-place finish for the Angels in the AL West and a 48% chance of making the playoffs before the season started.
PECOTA’s forecast was even more hopeful, assigning a 54.9% chance of making it to the postseason.
For a period, that objective seemed achievable.
Series Of Unfortunate Events For Angels 2023
On June 15, the Angels were just one game away from a playoff position. But then, a series of unfortunate events occurred.
They were already without the emerging star catcher Logan O’Hoppe and then lost another promising rookie, Zach Neto, due to a strained oblique muscle.
Seasoned infielder Gio Urshela suffered a pelvic fracture. Brandon Drury was sidelined for a month due to a shoulder problem. July brought more setbacks.
Mike Trout sustained a hamate bone fracture in his wrist and has since participated in only one game.
Taylor Ward was hit in the face by a pitch and has been absent ever since. Anthony Rendon hit a ball against his shin and has also been out of action since.
To worsen the situation, the Angels initially characterized Rendon’s injury as a bone contusion. However, Rendon, in a recent interaction with the press, stated that he actually has a tibia fracture. Minasian, however, downplayed this discrepancy in communication.
Minasian explained, “Four different individuals examined him, two from our side and two selected by him.
All of them, whom we hold in high regard and trust, diagnosed it as a bone contusion. However, he consulted another doctor independently, which is his prerogative, and that doctor identified a fracture. Regardless, the diagnosis is inconsequential as the treatment for both is identical.”
Rendon has not participated in more than 60 games in any of the last three seasons. Trout has only been a part of 237 games over the past three years, averaging 79 games per season.
The Angels are committed to paying Rendon $38.5 million annually until the end of the 2026 season, and Trout $37.1 million annually until the end of the 2029 season.
The situation with the prospect pipeline was not very positive. Anaheim had to send two of its best players from an already weak farm system to address some urgent needs.
Shohei ohtani’s trade rumors
As the season progressed, there were discussions about possibly trading Ohtani. However, the Angels decided to keep investing, as they did not want to waste potentially their last season with Ohtani.
This approach was soon reversed. A few weeks after acquiring new players at the deadline and falling further behind in the competition, the Angels decided to release most of the recently acquired reinforcements. It was a signal of surrender.
Although the supporting team was different, the outcome was disappointingly similar.
Minasian noted that the team made efforts to increase their depth this year, and while they did acquire more depth, it was not enough. The year just did not go as planned.
This seems to be a recurring theme for the Angels. Since 2011, they have had Trout on their team, and he has only participated in one division series.
Shohei Ohtani’s Career
Ohtani joined the team in 2018, but he has not played in any significant major-league games in September or October.
His most important appearance was in the offseason when he led Japan to victory in the World Baseball Classic by striking out Trout.
Despite having these two exceptional players, the Angels have not finished higher than third place in their division.
This pattern is set to continue through 2023, a season that started with high hopes but ended with the sport’s best player, packing up two weeks before the end of the season.
This could possibly be his last time in the Angels’ clubhouse.
As Estévez noted, the future is uncertain.