Shohei Ohtani is still the batsman despite UCL split: ‘He will play’

The biggest sho’ in baseball will carry on.

At least half of it.

Despite a cruciate ligament rupture that prevents him from pitching, Shohei Ohtani will continue to hit.

The two-way superstar may have needed surgery, but he still disrupted the Kodai Senga and Mets pitchers on Friday night.

After the devastating news to the Angels, future free agent and game, Ohtani would do whatever he could to help his club win.

He can no longer throw, but he can still swing.

“He’s going to play,” general manager Perry Minasian said ahead of the Angels’ 3-1 win over the Mets at Citi Field, “until he tells us he doesn’t.”

The short term is much clearer than the long term.

Shohei Ohtani doubled in the Angels’ 3-1 win over the Mets.
Robert Sabo for NY Post

The Angels said they have more information on the severity of the tear on Ohtani’s elbow, which could require a second operation from Tommy John.

Minasian said they are still “working to get a second opinion” after Ohtani was eliminated from the starting XI against the Reds on Wednesday due to an elbow problem.

They did not provide a timeline for when they would learn more about Ohtani, who did not speak to the media.

What the Angels knew was Ohtani would continue to fight for a club 9½ games behind an AL wildcard and go on for at least half of another historic season.

Fans react after Los Angeles Angels batsman-designate Shohei Ohtani, 17, scores on an RBI single by Los Angeles Angels first baseman Mike Moustakas
Fans react after Shohei Ohtani scored on a first baseman’s RBI single
Mike Moustakas during the Mets loss.
Robert Sabo for NY Post

Despite a right elbow injury, Ohtani reached base in four of five plate appearances and blasted a 115.4-mph double against Senga.

The 29-year-old, who is about to join a free agency promising game-changing riches, was told about the break between games on Wednesday.

Still playing in the nightcap, he scored a double.

“He loves playing the game. He was adamant he wanted to do DH that night – same thing this weekend,” said Angels manager Phil Nevin. “He wants to be out there with his teammates. He wants to be out there in front of the fans.”

Virtually no one has done what Ohtani has done since Babe Ruth.

Ohtani has established himself as one of the most feared pitchers and batsmen in the game. He led the majors in home runs (44) and OPS (1,073) and posted a 3.14 ERA in 132 dominant innings.

Ohtani, particularly in his last three All-Star seasons, has shone in ways modern eyes can no longer see.

It’s questionable if the world will ever see a season like this again if he opts for a second operation on Tommy John, which would ensure he wouldn’t pitch at least next season and wouldn’t offer any assurance that he could return to this top level.

Ohtani has a cruciate ligament tear and won't be pitching for the rest of the year.
Shohei Ohtani has a cruciate ligament tear and won’t be pitching for the rest of the year.
Robert Sabo for NY Post

Mike Trout said, “I have no doubt that Ohtani can successfully come back from the operating table as a two-way player.”

Among pitchers who have undergone the procedure twice, there are more cases of frustration than cases of redress, but Nathan Eovaldi and Jameson Taillon stand out as success stories.

Buck Showalter suggested years ago that a second operation of this kind could end careers, but science has made headway.

“That’s no longer the case,” the Mets manager said. “People can come back from it. I hope he does, for baseball’s sake.”

A baseball record remains a long way off as Ohtani remains in the batter’s box.

With 44 homers in the club’s first 129 games, he hit a pace of about 55 homers.

Aaron Judge hit 50 in the Yankees’ first 129 games last season, setting the American League record.

Nevin conceded that a piece of baseball history could serve as extra motivation for Ohtani to keep playing.

“Knowing his personality, he’s aware of those things,” said Nevin, who watched as the Mets purposely went past Ohtani once and bypassed him twice. “This guy is not money oriented. He wants to play baseball. He loves to play baseball.

Ohtani was an AL MVP leader this year.
Shohei Ohtani was an AL MVP leader this year.
Robert Sabo for NY Post

“Certainly this year he’s aiming for some things that are within reach and some special things that he can achieve.”

His racquet has netted him hundreds of millions of dollars, regardless of the condition of his elbow.

If teams believe Ohtani can recover from the rift – with or without surgery – and return as the Ohtani that amazed the world, the payday would be as historic as the player.

“I’m sure your roster faces some challenges because they’re doing both,” Showalter said, “but I think it’s one that any manager, pitching coach, hitting coach would immediately face.”

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