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Angels reaffirm confidence in Ohtani's health

Eppler says two-way star will enter spring with no restrictions
MLB.com @mi_guardado

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- One day after a report set off alarms regarding the soundness of prized acquisition Shohei Ohtani's right elbow, the Angels reiterated their confidence in the Japanese two-way star's health.

"The only understanding we have is [it's] really just something that's behind him," manager Mike Scioscia said Wednesday on Day 3 of the Winter Meetings. "There's no concern, and there's no restrictions. He'll be full go in Spring Training."

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- One day after a report set off alarms regarding the soundness of prized acquisition Shohei Ohtani's right elbow, the Angels reiterated their confidence in the Japanese two-way star's health.

"The only understanding we have is [it's] really just something that's behind him," manager Mike Scioscia said Wednesday on Day 3 of the Winter Meetings. "There's no concern, and there's no restrictions. He'll be full go in Spring Training."

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Video: Ohtani received preventative procedure in October

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Yahoo Sports reported late Tuesday that Ohtani has a first-degree UCL sprain in his throwing elbow, an injury that could put him more at risk for Tommy John surgery. Ohtani received a platelet-rich plasma injection to relieve elbow pain in October, according to the report, though the treatment was disclosed to all Major League teams during the recruitment process.

Angels general manager Billy Eppler said Ohtani underwent a thorough physical examination at the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopaedic Clinic in Los Angeles last Thursday before he signed with the Angels, and MRI scans revealed that the 23-year-old's right elbow "looked consistent with pitchers at his age and usage level."

"It is not out of the ordinary for a player to get a PRP at the end of a season," Eppler said Wednesday. "I'm ecstatic to have the player, as happy as anyone in baseball."

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Ohtani, who is now back in Japan, has been playing catch, and Eppler said he texted him on Tuesday night with the help of Google Translate.

The Angels are still in the process of finding a full-time interpreter for Ohtani. Eppler said he has collected a few resumes, though he does not expect to conduct interviews until after the Winter Meetings. Eppler said he plans to introduce several candidates to Ohtani, who will have the opportunity to give his input before anyone is hired.

Video: Scioscia ready to get creative with Ohtani in mix

Worth noting
• The Angels would like to bolster their corner-infield situation, and they have some flexibility because of Luis Valbuena's ability to play both first and third base. Eppler said he doesn't have a preference for where Valbuena is primarily deployed, though he told him to be prepared to play more third base.

The New York Post reported Wednesday that the Angels are among the 10 suitors for free-agent infielder Todd Frazier, a right-handed hitter who can play first, third and potentially even some second base. The 31-year-old Frazier, a New Jersey native like Mike Trout, batted .213 with a .772 OPS, 27 home runs and 76 RBIs in 147 games between the White Sox and the Yankees last season.

• Eppler said it's "hard to say" whether the Angels will be active in the Major League phase of the Rule 5 Draft on Thursday.

Maria Guardado covers the Angels for MLB.com.

Los Angeles Angels