Shohei Ohtani ‘feeling a lot better’ but still is being evaluated by Angels

Angels pitcher Shohei Ohtani delivers against the Pittsburgh Pirates on July 21 at Angel Stadium.
Angels pitcher Shohei Ohtani delivers against the Pittsburgh Pirates on July 21 at Angel Stadium. Right oblique tightness kept Ohtani out of Monday’s game against the Baltimore Orioles.
(Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times)

Shohei Ohtani’s agent painted the picture of an optimistic recovery for his injured client Monday afternoon at Angel Stadium.

“Everything’s good ... he’s going to be fine,” Nez Balelo said.

About 90 minutes later, Ohtani — who had taken batting practice for just the fourth time this season — was scratched from the Angels’ starting lineup before Monday’s 6-3 loss against the Baltimore Orioles because of what was initially described as right oblique tightness. After Tuesday’s loss to the Orioles, manager Phil Nevin said Ohtani has “a tiny bit of inflammation in there.”

Ohtani is considered day to day.

“I think we dodged a bullet as far as injury goes,” Nevin said.

Video captured by Yuki Yamada of Sankei Sports showed Ohtani swinging awkwardly during batting practice, then walking to the dugout with his head down as he made his way to the clubhouse. Ohtani had testing done Tuesday morning.


Before Tuesday’s game, Nevin said Ohtani was “feeling a lot better” but was still being evaluated and was held out of the starting lineup for the second straight game — just the fourth time he has not been in the starting lineup this season.

Ohtani mentioned to Nevin he wanted to play, and during Tuesday’s game, Ippei Mizuhara, Ohtani’s interpreter, came to Nevin to reiterate the same.

“I just felt like today was not a good day for him,” Nevin said. “So we’ll see how he feels tomorrow. If he comes in and tells me I feel good and he passes all tests, then I’ll have a decision to make.”

Tony Kemp hit a two-run single that put Oakland ahead in a six-run seventh inning marred by Angels errors in the Athletics’ 10-6 win.

Sept. 3, 2023

The Angels did their annual team photo before Tuesday’s game. A body double was present for Ohtani, who will be photoshopped into the photo. It is not uncommon, however, for players to need to be photoshopped into team photos. Ohtani arrived in the Angels clubhouse after the team photo was taken.

Ohtani, set to become a free agent after the World Series, will not pitch again this season after he tore the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow last month. Balelo thinks it is “inevitable” Ohtani will have some kind of procedure done on his elbow and said they still were reviewing their options. He declined to discuss Monday what kind of procedure Ohtani might have or what the timeline might be.

“There’s been multiple opinions and we’re not just banking on one or two,” Balelo said Monday. “We’re really trying to educate ourselves in this situation.”


Balelo said they anticipate Ohtani returning as a designated hitter at the start of next season.

“Shohei is going to be in somebody’s lineup DHing when the bell rings,” he said. “We know that. We’re not going to push that. He’s going to be good to go.”

Angels star Shohei Ohtani bats against the Washington Nationals on April 10.
(Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

Balelo confirmed that the UCL reconstruction Ohtani underwent in 2018 when he had Tommy John surgery remains intact. “This is a best-case scenario,” Balelo said regarding the feedback they received from doctors.

Balelo explained this tear, unlike the last time Ohtani tore his UCL — a reconstruction that remains intact, per Balelo — is at the lower end of the ligament.

Dr. David W. Altchek explained that “revision reconstructions versus repairs, if the rest of the ligament is in good shape,” would be among the possible options for procedures to address tears at the lower end of the ligament. Altchek is co-chief emeritus of the HSS Sports Medicine Institute and medical director for the New York Mets. Altchek is not Ohtani’s physician and spoke to The Times as an expert on the type of injury.


“A revision is anytime you bring someone back to the [operating room] that’s already had Tommy John surgery and doing anything to the ligament again is a revision,” Altchek told The Times on Tuesday. “The question is, when you do a revision are you just going to repair the tear or are you going to redo the reconstruction?

“Repairing means you usually put some kind of anchor in and sew the tissue back to the bone assuming that the rest of the tissue … looks good.”

Amid criticism over the Angels’ handling of Ohtani, general manager Perry Minasian told reporters Aug. 26 that the team offered to conduct imaging after Ohtani experienced a finger cramp earlier in the month, but the two-way star declined. Ohtani and Balelo were not worried the cramp was a symptom of a deeper problem, Minasian said.

“I consulted with Shohei after, we talked through it,” said Balelo, who emphasized the relationship between Ohtani and the team remains the same. “If you noticed in the sixth or seventh inning, the cramp went away, he hit a home run to tie the game and he stole a base. He was fine. There wasn’t any issue with the elbow, no issue with the shoulder. He was good to go.”

Angels GM Perry Minasian says the team is over the luxury-tax threshold, which could affect draft-pick compensation if they can’t re-sign Shohei Ohtani.

Sept. 1, 2023

Ohtani has not spoken to the media since Aug. 9, but Balelo insisted “Shohei is in a good place. His spirits are high. He’s playing. Everything’s good. So I don’t want anybody to think that he’s not.”

Balelo reiterated Ohtani’s intention “to continue to just play out as long as we possibly can.”


“There’s really no need for him to address the media,” Balelo said. “I’m addressing this for him, and on behalf of all of us… but we’re just going to let him continue to play and do what he loves to do and respect that.”

Heading into Tuesday, Ohtani led the majors in on-base-plus-slugging rate (1.066) and shared the lead in home runs (44). He led the American League in walks (91) and on-base percentage (.412) and was tied atop the AL in runs scored (102) and triples (8). His .654 slugging rate was second in the league and his .304 batting average fourth.

“We all feel extremely positive based on information that we’re getting that he’s going to be fine,” Balelo said. “The outpouring of love and well wishes, all of that, have just been overwhelming and we do appreciate it.”

Angels fall to Orioles

Randal Grichuk hits a solo home run in the fourth inning of the Angels' 6-3 loss.
Randal Grichuk hits a solo home run in the fourth inning of the Angels’ 6-3 loss to the Baltimore Orioles on Monday night.
(Ryan Sun / Associated Press)

The Angels lost the first of a three-game set against the Baltimore Orioles 6-3 on Monday.

The Angels (64-74) took the lead in the second inning when Mickey Moniak smacked an RBI double into right field to score Michael Stefanic, who reached on a walk. The lead was short-lived as the Orioles (86-51) got run-scoring hits from Austin Hays, Ryan Mountcastle and Aaron Hicks in the third.

Randal Grichuk’s solo home run in the fourth inning made it a one-run game.

Kenny Rosenberg, making his first start of the season for the Angels, took the loss, giving up three earned runs, seven hits and two walks, while striking out four.


“To get the opportunity to pitch from the jump and give them the chance to do that feels good,” Rosenberg said.

Gunnar Henderson hit a three-run home run in the seventh to keep the Orioles ahead for good.