Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani has new damage in his right elbow and the team says Tommy John surgery has been recommended.
The Angels said Ohtani had an MRI on Wednesday in Texas that revealed the problem in his ulnar collateral ligament.
“There’s more questions out there right now than answers. We’ll take it one step at a time,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “There’s a lot of consulting that Shohei will do with doctors and just see what the best course of action is, and we’ll see where we are.”
Ohtani had been scheduled to throw a light bullpen session Wednesday, but never did after reporting that his elbow was sore. The medical staff then decided that he should get the new MRI.
The 24-year-old rookie was still in the Angels’ lineup as the designated hitter for their series finale against the Rangers. Asked whether Ohtani would stay in the lineup as a DH after this game, Scioscia said: “We’ll see. That’s going to be determined from our medical department.”
Ohtani was diagnosed with a sprained UCL following a start June 6 and was treated with a platelet-rich plasma injection and an injection of stem cells. He was hitting again in early July, and returned to the mound with his start Sunday at Houston.
Ohtani lasted only 2 1/3 innings in that start against the Astros, and had a drastic drop in velocity during the game.
“I’m sure at some point he’s going to resume his pitching career,” Scioscia said. “When that is depends on whatever the course of action is.”
“We’d love to have him a whole season, but I think that taking a little half-step back here and seeing him pitch for a whole career is more important than looking back and saying “what if?'” he said.
In 10 starts on the mound, the right-hander was 4-2 with a 3.31 ERA. He struck out 63 with 22 walks in 51 2-3 innings.
Ohtani hit his 16th homer Tuesday night, his first against a left-hander in the big leagues. He had already joined Babe Ruth as the only players ever to hit 15 homers and pitch 50 innings in a season.
Ohtani went into Wednesday night’s game hitting .276 with 16 homers and 44 RBIs in 243 at-bats.
The Angels paid the $20 million posting fee to Ohtani’s previous club, the Nippon Ham Fighters. Ohtani, who is under the Angels’ contractual control for six years, signed a minor league contract and got $2,315,000 in international bonus money from the Angels.
On Monday, Scioscia said Ohtani had been evaluated after coming out of his pitching return early and that there was no apprehension about the elbow. The manager said then that Ohtani was dealing with tightness in his back and a sore right ring finger after a ball deflected off of it during that game, but that the elbow felt great.
“When he was getting evaluated, there was obviously a little bit of soreness there,” Scioscia said Wednesday. “I don’t know if Shohei thought it was normal just from not having pitched for a while.”
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