It has been reported that Los Angeles Angels two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani is likely to need Tommy John surgery. Ohtani underwent an MRI that revealed significant damage to Ohtani’s UCL likely needing reconstruction surgery. However, it is also reported that Ohtani was cleared to hit even after he was recommended for Tommy John Surgery.
Shohei Ohtani underwent an MRI on his right elbow earlier today. The imaging revealed new damage to his ulnar collateral ligament (UCL). Based on these findings, UCL reconstruction surgery is the recommended plan of care. Additional information will be provided when appropriate.
— Angels (@Angels) September 5, 2018
Shohei Ohtani is still in the lineup and is cleared to hit. It’s undetermined when or even if he will have elbow reconstructive surgery.
— Patrick O’Neal (@Patrick_ONeal) September 5, 2018
This past Sunday, Ohtani took the mound for the first time since June 6th, he was restricted to a pitch limit only throwing 2 1/3 innings allowing 2 runs. His velocity had dropped as the start continued, his velocity was not as present as it was earlier in 2018, as to be expected not having thrown for so long. This start was a test, prior to today Ohtani’s arm status was clear and the Angels not being in contention decided to let him pitch since doctors had cleared his arm.
This was why the Angels wanted him to pitch this season. Surgery now means he can return as a pitcher for the start of the 2020 season. Surgery next spring meant he would not have returned until late in the 2020 season, or perhaps 2021.
— Bill Shaikin (@BillShaikin) September 5, 2018
By pitching him now, it allowed the Angels to get out in front of this new development. It is more advantageous for them to find out now, act on it, and have Ohtani ready to pitch in 2020 and possibly hit in 2019 if he is cleared to do so rather than find out during Spring Training next spring and lose a big piece of their team that close to the seasons start.
Ohtani has hit in 81 games in 2018 for the Angels, he has a .276 batting average with 16 home runs and 44 RBI’s. Also, Ohtani has pitched in 10 games this year being 4-2 with an ERA of 3.31 with a WHIP of 1.16 for the Angels. Prior to the announcement of Ohtani’s injury, some believed that Ohtani’s 2018 performance was worth a Rookie of the Year Award for the American League. Ohtani’s season started very strong and he did struggle with arm issues earlier in the year as well, but he opened the 2018 season very effective for the Angels.