Ohtani (oblique) out for 7th straight game, could return Monday

September 10th, 2023

ANAHEIM -- was held out of the lineup for a seventh straight game on Sunday, as he’s still dealing with right oblique tightness after injuring himself on a swing during batting practice before Monday’s game.

"I think starting tomorrow is realistic," manager Phil Nevin said before Sunday's finale against Cleveland. "He feels better today, again, I know he's going to take some swings later." 

Nevin added that Ohtani may be available off the bench on Sunday if needed.

Ohtani, who was initially in the lineup on Monday before being scratched, underwent further testing before that night's 5-4 loss to the Orioles in 10 innings at Angel Stadium. It revealed only minor inflammation and no strain, which was good news. Ohtani, the overwhelming favorite to win the AL MVP Award for a second time in three seasons, tried to get loose in the batting cage before Wednesday's game. But he didn’t feel quite right and wasn't cleared to return in a 10-3 defeat in the series finale.

He swung in the cages before Thursday's game against the Guardians and did some agility drills on the field, but Nevin said he wanted to be cautious with Ohtani, because they don't want him to reinjure his oblique and miss the rest of the season.

Ohtani, 29, has slashed .304/.412/.654 with 44 homers, eight triples, 26 doubles, 20 stolen bases, 95 RBIs and 102 runs scored in 135 games. He’s tied for the MLB lead with his 44 blasts, which is also three off the club record of 47 homers set by Troy Glaus in 2000.

Ohtani has remained the club’s regular designated hitter even after being diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right throwing elbow on Aug. 23. He won’t pitch again this season and is currently seeking multiple opinions on his elbow, as he’s set for free agency and still determining his next course of action.

His agent, Nez Balelo, spoke to the media on Monday and indicated that surgery is likely, but that it might not be a second Tommy John surgery. He added that Ohtani will be ready to hit at the start of next season, even if he does undergo an operation on his elbow.

Nevin said Ohtani has asked to be in the lineup in every game since his elbow injury.

“I think it just says a lot about who he is,” Nevin said. “And just for the record, he really wants to play right now. He’s upset about it. He wants to play. It’s just a credit to who he is. If he starts something, he wants to finish it. He wants to be out there, but these things can be finicky sometimes, so we’re getting more tests.”

Ohtani has been a constant fixture in the lineup this season despite the rigors of being a two-way player. He’s only been held out of the lineup only four times this season despite making 23 starts as a pitcher and going 10-5 with a 3.14 ERA and 167 strikeouts in 132 innings.

Before Monday, the last time Ohtani wasn’t the club’s starting designated hitter was on May 2 against the Cardinals. The only other time was April 12 against the Nationals.

Nevin said that he has conversations with Ohtani through his interpreter Ippei Mizuhara before each game to see how Ohtani is feeling, but it’s ultimately Nevin’s choice if Ohtani is in the lineup.

“First off, I make the lineup,” Nevin said. “If I wanted him to have a day off, I would tell him to have it. There's times where it's happened. Obviously, it hasn't happened in a long time. I feel like our conversations have always been good like that. Today may or may not have been one of those days. I just felt like he probably needed another one or two days, but we are still evaluating him. He feels a lot better today. He mentioned wanting to play, but I wasn’t going to let him.”