Angels general manager Billy Eppler announced that Shohei Ohtani underwent successful Tommy John surgery Monday. The procedure was performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles."The doctor was pleased with what he saw and feels confident in the recovery process," Eppler said.It remains to be seen what the Angels' 2019
Angels general manager Billy Eppler announced that Shohei Ohtani underwent successful Tommy John surgery Monday. The procedure was performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles.
"The doctor was pleased with what he saw and feels confident in the recovery process," Eppler said.
It remains to be seen what the Angels' 2019 plans are for Ohtani, who also received Major League Baseball's American League Rookie of the Month Award for September on Monday. The surgery to repair the ulnar collateral ligament in Ohtani's right pitching elbow will likely sideline him from the mound until 2020, but he could still see significant time as Los Angeles' designated hitter next season.
Eppler said it's still too early to know how soon Ohtani will be available to hit in 2019.
"It's hard to judge right now," Eppler said. "When you go through a UCL reconstruction, or any kind of sizeable surgery, the recovery process and the markers along the way in the recovery process, those tell you or uncover things for you and give you a little bit better sense of a timeline."
Position players typically return to the field in less time following Tommy John, such as Yankees rookie infielder Gleyber Torres, who missed about half a season in 2017 after tearing the UCL in his non-throwing elbow. Dodgers star Corey Seager underwent Tommy John surgery this past May and is expected to be on the team's Opening Day roster in 2019. Other notable position players to receive the surgery include former MLB outfielder Carl Crawford, Angels infielder Zack Cozart, Twins third baseman Miguel Sano and Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez -- all of whom were able to return to the field in a year's time or less. Ohtani could theoretically return next season and log significant time as Los Angeles' designated hitter while still allowing his elbow to recover for an eventual return to the mound.
The two-way phenom Ohtani is a frontrunner for the AL's Rookie of the Year Award after excelling as both a pitcher and hitter in ways unseen since Babe Ruth a century ago. The righty finished with a 3.31 ERA and 63 strikeouts over 10 starts as a pitcher, and his .564 slugging percentage ranked seventh in MLB among those with at least 350 plate appearances.
"He's got a championship mindset," Eppler said. "He knows what he wants to do, and he's got a plan. That was pretty inspiring to see. We all saw what we saw on the field. He can dominate a game on the mound, and he can dominate a game in the batter's box. And he can dominate it on the bases. It was rewarding to watch that. I enjoyed watching him play."
Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB.
Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter and Facebook.