Dodgers Team News

Dodgers’ Shohei Ohtani Weighs in on Pitching Injury Debate

Shohei Ohtani is a lot of things: an international celebrity, a talented hitter and pitcher, and the highest-paid baseball player in history.

The Dodgers’ two-way star is also one of many pitchers on a growing list of elbow surgery recipients in recent years. Ohtani underwent what his surgeon, Dr. Neal ElAttrache, described as an “internal brace” procedure on his torn ulnar collateral ligament last September.

Monday in Minnesota, Ohtani gave a rare pregame interview to a group of reporters. The topic of pitcher injuries has been a hot one in the last week, with former American League Cy Young Award winner Shane Bieber and National League All-Star Spencer Strider diagnosed with torn UCLs. Naturally, Ohtani was asked about the theory that the pitch clock — instituted last year — has given rise to elbow injuries like his own.

The pitch clock, a timer limiting pitchers to 15 seconds with the bases empty and 20 seconds with runners on, was first instituted at the major league level last year. Prior to the 2024 season, it sped up. Pitchers now have 18 seconds to deliver a pitch with a runner on base.

The rule came under fire when MLB Players’ Association chief Tony Clark identified it as a contributing factor to “reduced recovery time” in a harshly-worded statement directed at MLB Comissioner Rob Manfred.

Ohtani isn’t alone in saying the pitch clock is just one of many possible factors giving rise to new elbow injuries.

Former Cy Young Award winner Justin Verlander, who’s on the rehab trail himself, told reporters Sunday, “I think the game has changed a lot. I think it would be easiest to blame the pitch clock. In reality, you put everything together, everything has a little bit of influence. The biggest thing is that the style of pitching has changed so much. Everybody’s throwing as hard as they possibly can, spinning the ball as hard as they possibly can. It’s hard to deny those results, obviously. It’s a double-edged sword. How can you tell somebody to not do that?”

Photo Credit: Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

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JP Hoornstra

J.P. Hoornstra writes and edits Major League Baseball content for and is the author of 'The 50 Greatest Dodger Games Of All Time.' He once recorded a keyboard solo on the same album as two of the original Doors. Follow at

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