Vague Shohei Ohtani surgery update should have Dodgers a bit wary

What's the surgery?? What is it?!

Detroit Tigers v Los Angeles Angels
Detroit Tigers v Los Angeles Angels / John McCoy/GettyImages

A recent report suggested the Los Angeles Dodgers remain undeterred by Shohei Ohtani's elbow injury and still plan to pursue him in the offseason. Though we've warned about the potential pitfalls multiple times, it won't stop anybody (even us) from being optimistic about LA's chances of landing the best player in MLB.

But hold the phone. On Tuesday, an out-of-left-field announcement revealed Ohtani underwent elbow surgery. The two-way star posted about it on Instagram and his agent, Nez Balelo, issued one himself. The details were scarce.

All we know is that Ohtani underwent elbow surgery, will be ready to hit in 2024, and will be ready to pitch in 2025. No specifics on the procedure. The assurance from Dr. Neal ElAttrache certainly helps (you can see below), but again, the lack of clarity here leaves reason for concern.

The Dodgers will obviously get any and all medical information they need when assessing Ohtani in free agency, but this sure sounds like he didn't undergo Tommy John surgery and instead opted for a less invasive procedure.

Shouldn't that raise an eyebrow about Ohtani's longevity as a pitcher? He already tried to rehab his initial UCL tear and needed Tommy John anyway. Will there potentially be an interruption in the middle of his forthcoming mega contract if this alternative surgery doesn't offer maximum protection?

Vague Shohei Ohtani surgery update should have Dodgers a bit wary

For those unfamiliar, former New York Yankees reliever Zack Britton underwent an alternative form of Tommy John surgery back in 2021 so he'd be ready faster in 2022. His UCL was repaired with a piece of experimental tape, which was believed to shave six months off the recovery process.

The result? Britton returned worse than ever and suffered from elbow pain and arm fatigue. He made only three appearances and hasn't pitched since, with his career halted during his age-34 season.

We have no idea if that's the same surgery Ohtani had. And we also know Tommy John isn't a guarantee for pitchers to be out of the woods with any future elbow problems, but it's at least a constant we know to be the most effective.

Nonetheless, the consistent mystique surrounding Ohtani undoubtedly creates unnecessary worry. The Dodgers pretty much echoed that after their first free agency meeting with him back in 2018 when it seemed as if Ohtani's decision was "pre-determined." His supposed "good" relationship with New Balance CEO might have him interested in the Red Sox for some reason? His abrupt disappearance from the Angels was bizarre and headline-worthy for the wrong reasons. Executives have suggested he has a desire to "defy convention."

A vague and surprising revelation that he underwent surgery is right in line with that. The Dodgers should just be on their toes when it comes to Ohtani, that's all. We're just clocking the updates as they roll in.