Ohtani to keep hitting; TJ decision still to come

September 7th, 2018

CHICAGO -- plans to finish the 2018 season as a hitter and likely won't make a definitive decision on whether or not he will undergo Tommy John surgery until the offseason, he announced Friday before the Angels' game against the White Sox.

Ohtani was diagnosed with a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow Wednesday, two days after returning to the mound for the first time since being diagnosed with a Grade 2 sprain of that UCL in early June. Other than that start, he has played solely as a designated hitter since July 3 and repeated Friday that the injured ligament does not affect his hitting.

"Nothing's set right now [for surgery]," Ohtani said through a team interpreter. "I have a few options out there and I'm still trying to look into every single option. I will end up making a decision sometime toward the end of the year."

Once Ohtani is fully healthy, he said he plans to continue both pitching and hitting.

"That's not in the plans," he said when asked if he would consider stopping pitching. "I'm progressing as a hitter right now and trying to gain as many experiences as I can while the games count."

Ohtani reportedly had a Grade 1 UCL sprain when he signed with the Angels. He received a platelet-rich plasma (PRP) shot to his elbow as part of stem cell therapy last October, but the ligament damage worsened in June, when he had another PRP shot.

Because of the repeated injuries to his elbow, the possibility of having Tommy John surgery remained in the back of his mind, Ohtani said.

"I knew that wasn't 100 percent, my elbow wasn't 100 percent, so somewhere in the back of my mind I was preparing for the Tommy John stuff," Ohtani said. "It was something that was in my mind the whole time but I'm trying to take it as positively as possible. I will still be able to hit next year, so I'm trying to stay positive."

Playing Wednesday night after receiving the new diagnosis, Ohtani went 4-for-4 with two home runs against the Rangers. The performance appeared to ease doubts that Ohtani would not be able to hit during any potential surgery rehab.

"I don't really like bad news. I like a lot of good news better, so I was trying to send some good news and I was able to do that," Ohtani said.

The two-way phenom has garnered significant American League Rookie of the Year attention despite the injuries, owning a .287/.367/.579 slash line with 18 home runs in 279 plate appearances, and a 3.31 ERA with 62 strikeouts in 51 2/3 innings pitched.