Whatever your stake in the Angels – you probably have none – Japanese youngster Shohei Ohtani has been an incredible story. The two-way player is hitting a whopping .289/.372/.535 as a rookie just making the move to the States … while also pitching to the tune of a 3.10 ERA and lovely peripherals.
It’s been great for the Angels, obviously, but more importantly, it’s been great for the sport. We’ve never seen anything like this in our lifetimes, and I wanted to keep seeing it.
So I am very, very bummed out:
Shohei Ohtani will be placed on the disabled list with a grade 2 sprain of the UCL. He underwent a PRP and Stem Cell injection yesterday with Dr. Steve Yoon in Los Angeles. He will be re-evaluated in 3 weeks and we will update his plan of care at that time.
— Angels PR (@LAAngelsPR) June 8, 2018
At last word, Ohtani was dealing with a blister issue that was preventing him from pitching, but unless the blister is inside his elbow, then this is a different problem. A much more serious one.
A sprain is a stretching or tearing of a ligament, and the UCL is the ligament in a pitcher’s elbow that sometimes goes pop and requires Tommy John surgery. A small handful of pitchers have been able to rehab a partially torn UCL – in part with things like PRP and Stem Cell injections, like Ohtani apparently received – and it seems that’s the current hope for Ohtani.
Most of these situations, though, end in a Tommy John surgery. And if that happens, Ohtani will be lost for the rest of this season and much of next season, too (at least as a pitcher – it’s conceivable he could come back sooner as a DH, but how that would work with the need to rehab as a pitcher, I really don’t know … again, we’ve just never seen this kind of thing before).
Hopefully he can be one of those rare cases. He already is rare in so many ways, so maybe.
You may recall, by the way, that Ohtani was known to have a UCL issue even before finalizing his deal with the Angels, so there were some known risks here. Moreover, that elbow issue was rumored to be *the* reason the Cubs didn’t get Ohtani, with him fearing that playing in the outfield and pitching could be too risky. Seems like it wound up being a problem regardless.
In the end, a serious injury here is just such bad news for baseball. Not only do we not get Ohtani fun for a while now (maybe a very long while), but it also hurts the Angels’ chances of staying competitive while Mike Trout rides one of the best seasons in baseball history. Those kinds of storylines are good for the sport. And this one just got kicked in the elbow.