When Shohei Ohtani signed the largest deal in MLB history, it was presumably under the assumption he'd remain a two-way player whenever he healed from his second elbow surgery (he's expected to take the mound again come 2025).
Though some have labeled it Tommy John surgery, the truth is ... we never knew what it was. When the news was confirmed, it was merely stated Ohtani underwent elbow surgery. Specifics were never provided.
That remained the case during his introductory press conference with the Dodgers on Thursday. Ohtani was asked about the procedure and said it was "completely different" than the Tommy John he underwent in 2018.
A Dodgers reporter also asked Ohtani's agent, Nez Balelo, about it, and Balelo said the surgery doesn't have a name because of how uncommon it is. Maybe call it "Shohei Ohtani surgery" so the man can now corner the medical market!
But seriously ... is this worrisome for the Dodgers and their fans? If they're hoping he can return to ace-like form in 2025? Is there any concern that he's coming back as soon as Opening Day to serve as LA's everyday DH?
Should Dodgers fans be concerned about Shohei Ohtani's response to elbow surgery?
We're not here to squash the Ohtani hype. There's no denying his impact and mere presence, but the Dodgers just made a 20-year investment in the 29-year-old and badly need starting rotation help both now and for the years to come. How can anybody sit still with this mysteriousness surrounding his elbow?
It's already assumed the Dodgers will be paying for regression years. Ohtani will be 30 years old in July and just signed a 10-year contract. The financial hit will be felt until 2043. Everybody in the Dodgers world simply needs multiple MVP seasons/World Series to justify the $700 million -- well, maybe not everyone, but there are high expectations among a large portion of the fanbase.
Earlier on Thursday, Dylan Hernandez of the LA Times (subscription required) interviewed Ohtani's surgeon, Dr. Neal ElAttrache, and he said Ohtani's medicals were "among the most scrutinized ever studied." He noted the concern from every team interested in Ohtani about the possibility of him getting back to his two-way star status.
Ohtani's second surgery was known as a "Tommy John provision," per ElAttrache, who also said the success rates have "more than doubled." He declined to offer further details, but added Ohtani is expected to recover as a first-time Tommy John patient would.
Spare us the details, actually. That's good enough for us. Full throttle Ohtani coming in 2025.