When will Shohei Ohtani pitch for the Dodgers? What we know about two-way status in 2024 after UCL injury

The pursuit of two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani has come to an end and the Dodgers have won the sweepstakes.

The two-time MVP announced Saturday via Instagram that he will take his talents just up the road to Los Angeles, joining the Dodgers in pursuit of not only his first-ever MLB playoff appearance, but a chance at a World Series ring.

Ohtani’s success has been unprecedented since he stepped foot in MLB. In addition to being one of baseball’s most dominant hitters, slugging 171 home runs to go with 437 RBI, 86 stolen bases and a .274 career batting average over 2,871 plate appearances, Ohtani has also been one of the league’s best pitchers.

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In 86 starts and 481.2 innings, the Japanese star has tallied 608 strikeouts with a 3.01 ERA, 1.08 WHIP and a stifling .200 BAA, good for a 38-19 career record despite playing for an Angels team that never finished above .500 during his six-year tenure.

Unfortunately for Dodgers fans, though, Ohtani will only serve as a designated hitter in 2024.

Why won’t Ohtani pitch during the upcoming season and when can we expect him back on the mound? The Sporting News has you covered below.

Shohei Ohtani UCL injury

After 23 starts and 132 innings pitched in 2023, Ohtani was shut down in late August when he was bothered by an elbow issue in his throwing arm.

Ohtani was later diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) and underwent surgery on Sept. 19, 2023.

According to Ohtani’s agent Nez Balelo, the procedure was done in Los Angeles by Dr. Neal ElAttrache, who has handled countless famous surgeries from star pitchers like Chris Sale, to star basketball players like Kobe Bryant, to star quarterbacks like Aaron Rodgers and Joe Burrow.

MORE SHOHEI OHTANI COVERAGE

Shohei Ohtani injury history

This is the second major arm surgery that Ohtani has had in his six-year MLB career.

Back in 2018, Ohtani underwent Tommy John surgery, and the recovery kept him off the mound for the entire 2019 season.

When he finally got back on the hill during the COVID-shortened 2020 campaign, he experienced discomfort in his arm after two starts and was shut down again. Ohtani was diagnosed with a flexor tendon strain in his right elbow at that time.

Ohtani bounced back strong with a dominant campaign in 2021 and finished as a top-five Cy Young candidate in 2022.

He was brilliant in 2023 as well, before a torn UCL put an end to his season as a pitcher.

When will Shohei Ohtani pitch for the Dodgers?

In the same press release that announced Ohtani’s UCL surgery in September, the two-way star’s agent also revealed that Ohtani would not pitch for the entire 2024 season.

“The ultimate plan after deliberation with Shohei, was to repair the issue at hand and to reinforce the healthy ligament in place while adding viable tissue for the longevity of the elbow,” the statement began.

“I expect a full recovery and he’ll be ready to hit without any restrictions come opening day of 2024 and do both (hit and pitch) come 2025.”

So there you have it. Expect to see Ohtani return to the mound in spring training, 2025.

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