Angels star Shohei Ohtani says he’s yet to decide whether to undergo Tommy John surgery following the recent recommendation that he do so, as Jeff Fletcher of the Southern California News Group was among those to report (Twitter links). He has made the call, however, to finish out the 2018 season as a hitter rather than undergoing the procedure now.
While it still seems likely that Ohtani will end up receiving a replacement ulnar collateral ligament, he certainly does not appear to be anxious to get things over with. That would allow him to play for another three weeks, albeit at the cost of shortening the breathing room to get ready for the 2019 season.
If Ohtani does have the UCL procedure, of course, he wouldn’t be able to pitch next year regardless. And he’ll have a lengthy span to ready for the 2020 campaign. But the difference of three weeks could certainly impact his ability to participate fully in Spring Training and be fully prepared to function as a hitter at the start of the 2019 campaign.
Notably — albeit unsurprisingly — Ohtani also made clear he has no intentions of abandoning his two-way approach to the game. Given his superlative performances as a pitcher and hitter, prior efforts to function in both capacities, and the fact that he only just reached his 24th birthday, that seemed all but a foregone conclusion even before he weighed in.