The Los Angeles Angels placed Shohei Ohtani on the disabled list Friday because of a Grade 2 sprain of the ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow, saying they would reevaluate his situation in three weeks.
We might not see the two-way Japanese sensation on the field until well after that.
ESPN’s Pedro Gomez reported Sunday night that the Angels are worried that Ohtani’s UCL sprain has progressed to Grade 3, a full tear that would require ligament replacement surgery (a.k.a. Tommy John surgery) and a lengthy rehab process.
“It’s not good at this point. There’s three grades of an ulnar collateral ligament injury, Grade 1 being the mildest; Grade 2 — which is what Ohtani is having right now — is a more severe sprain; Grade 3 being a full tear, where you’ve got to have Tommy John surgery,” Gomez said on “SportsCenter.”
“The Angels are holding out hope that [Ohtani won’t need surgery], but everything I’m hearing is that the reality is he probably will need Tommy John surgery. They’re trying to hold out because they’re in the middle of a season, they’re kind of competitive right now, he is their best pitcher. But it doesn’t look good at this point.”
Angels General Manager Billy Eppler denied Monday that the team has made a decision on Ohtani’s treatment.
“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,” Eppler said, per Ken Rosenthal.
Ohtani, the first two-way MLB pitcher in decades, is 4-1 with a 3.10 ERA on the mound and is hitting .289 with six home runs, 20 RBI and a .907 on-base-plus-slugging percentage in his first season in the majors. Days after he signed as a free agent in December, Yahoo reported that Ohtani had a Grade 1 UCL tear, but Eppler said at the time that there were “no signs of acute trauma” in the ligament.
If Ohtani needs to undergo surgery, he likely wouldn’t be back until 2020.
“It’s a surgery that normally requires about a 15-month rehab process so, when you just do the math, you figure this whole season is out and in all likelihood all of next season … as well,” Gomez said. “The earliest we might see him, should he have Tommy John surgery, would be the 2020 season. He’d be ready for spring training. And, really, the more they wait now at the front end, the longer it’ll take at the back end. But they’re at a point, really, with just four months left in the season, that it’s okay to roll the dice and see if three weeks from now he’s better, because you’re probably going to miss all of next season, regardless, should he have Tommy John surgery.”
Eppler told reporters in a conference call Thursday that Ohtani underwent injections of platelet-rich plasma and stem cells Thursday in Los Angeles, a treatment used to aid the healing and regeneration of soft tissues such as tendons and ligaments. He won’t throw over the three-week period until his evaluation.
“I’m just going to take every day as it comes and put him on this course of recovery and strengthening for the next three weeks and then deal with what we’ve got to deal with in three weeks’ time,” Eppler said during the conference call, per the Associated Press.
The Angels (37-29) are 7-3 over their past 10 games and sit 4.5 games out of first place in the AL West.
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