It turns out that Shohei Ohtani‘s injury situation is more severe than initially thought.
When Ohtani left his start against the Kansas City Royals on Wednesday, the reason that was given by the Los Angeles Angels for Ohtani’s early departure was that a blister had developed on his right middle finger. The blister is part of the reason why Ohtani is going on the disabled list, but not the major factor.
The 23-year-old Ohtani is set to miss at least three weeks with a grade 2 UCL sprain of his right elbow. Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY Sports reports that Ohtani told the Angels he was experiencing stiffness in his elbow after he was pulled from the same game where his blister developed. He underwent an MRI that revealed the damage in his pitching elbow on Thursday.
Ohtani has been both pitching and hitting for the Angels this season, making starts at the designated hitter position and doing very well as a hitter with a .289/.372/.535 batting line and 6 homers and 20 runs batted in. However, the Angels aren’t taking any chances and also won’t allow Ohtani to hit with the injury until they re-evaluate him after the three weeks. However, it’s possible that after the re-evaluation process is complete, Ohtani’s season could very well be over.
It is very possible that Ohtani’s injury could potentially required Tommy John surgery if the PRP and Stem Cell injection the Japanese phenom received doesn’t prove to be effective. It’s also very possible that the injections work their magic and can prevent Tommy John surgery from being utilized like they did with Ohtani’s good friend and New York Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka, but only time will tell.
Last off-season, Yahoo Sports reported that Ohtani had received a PRP injection then as well to repair damage in his UCL. Yahoo also stated that MLB teams were aware of Ohtani’s medical condition during his free agency process. The PRP injection at that time was given for a grade 1 sprain, which likely means that the tear has only worsen.
Albert Pujols will likely be the designated hitter in Ohtani’s place, with Chris Young also being a potential candidate to make starts there as well. The team has not announced who will start in Ohtani’s place against the Seattle Mariners on Wednesday.
As a pitcher this season, Ohtani has a 4-1 win-loss record and a 3.10 earned run average scattered across 49.1 innings of work. He’s struck out 61 opposing batters this season, and perhaps his most impressive start this year came against the Oakland Athletics on April 8th when he struck out 12 and yielded just one hit in 7.0 innings.
If Ohtani needs Tommy John surgery, he will miss all of 2019 and an undetermined portion of time in 2020. Ohtani would of course rehab while being on the Major League disabled list, which will effective his service time clock that allows MLB teams to control rookie players for six years.
Speaking of the Rookie of the Year race, it’s likely that Yankees rookie infielder Gleyber Torres would become the runaway favorite for the honor if Ohtani’s 2018 season indeed had to conclude due to injury. Many thin Ohtani would’ve had a slight advantage over Torres in the eyes of voters for being the first player in baseball since Babe Ruth to both pitch and hit full-time.
Photo: Wally Skalij/Los Angeles Times