Angels two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani has an uncertain timetable in his recovery from a Grade 2 sprain of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, but the club is hopeful that Ohtani will be back contributing sooner than later. There's cautious optimism within the Angels organization that Ohtani will play again this season -- if not as both a hitter and pitcher then at least as a hitter, a source told MLB.com's Jon Paul Morosi on Monday.
MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal spoke on Monday to Angels general manager Billy Eppler, who said, "There have been no changes in Ohtani's diagnosis, and neither our physicians nor medical staff have recommended [Tommy John surgery] or said it's likely."
Angels manager Mike Scioscia also said the surgery "has not come up in any conversations between myself and the medical department."
On Sunday night, ESPN's Pedro Gomez reported on SportsCenter that Ohtani will "probably" need elbow surgery, which would force Ohtani to miss the rest of the season and likely keep him off the mound for all of 2019, though it's possible he could return to serve as a designated hitter sooner than that, as the timetable for hitters returning from the procedure is shorter than it is for pitchers.
Ohtani was placed on the disabled list Friday, and he has received both platelet-rich plasma and stem-cell injections. The Angels said Ohtani would be re-evaluated in three weeks and that an update on his treatment would be provided at the time.
"We're all bummed," Michael Trout said on Saturday. "It's a tough loss for this team. Obviously, he hits and pitches, so it's a double loss. The biggest thing in this game is to stay healthy. That's the toughest part."
Eppler said Ohtani complained of stiffness in his elbow after he got his blister drained Wednesday, prompting the Angels to order an MRI exam that revealed the sprain. Yahoo! Sports reported in December that Ohtani had received a PRP injection in October to heal a Grade 1 sprain, which is considered the least severe of UCL injuries. The procedure was disclosed in the medical report that was distributed to all 30 MLB clubs prior to the courtship of the two-way phenom.
The 23-year-old rookie had been enjoying virtually unprecedented success as a two-way player this season. He has gone 4-1 with a 3.10 ERA and 61 strikeouts over 49 1/3 innings as a right-handed pitcher and batted .289 with a .907 OPS and six home runs over 129 plate appearances as a left-handed hitter.