Shohei Ohtani is an immensely talented baseball player whose two-way ability makes him a fascinating prospect. But there are some red flags.
The Japanese pitcher/hitter, whom the Los Angeles Angeles signed Friday, has a first-degree sprain of the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) of his pitching elbow, according to a physical obtained by Yahoo Sports.
Angels general manger Bill Eppler confirmed to reporters Tuesday that Ohtani received a platelet-rich plasma injection in his right elbow, explaining that, according to Ohtani’s agent, these injections often are given in Japan as preventative measures.
“Although partial damage of UCL in deep layer of his right UCL exists… he is able to continue full baseball participation with sufficient elbow care program,” the report obtained by Yahoo read.
Ohtani received the injection on Oct. 20, per Yahoo Sports, and was expected to take about a month off before resuming his throwing program. The 23-year-old was seen playing catch in Japan on Tuesday, according to Japanese reports, so it appears he’s back on schedule.
It’s a bit concerning that Ohtani has elbow damage (albeit minor) this early in his career, as further aggravation could result in Tommy John surgery. That said, several successful MLB pitchers — including Chris Sale and Masahiro Tanaka — have used PRP injections to deal with similar elbow issues and have found great success afterward.
The Angels signed Ohtani for just over $2.3 million after agreeing to pay a $20 million posting fee, so there’s a lot at stake in their investment here. But L.A. doesn’t appear concerned.
“We are pleased with the results of the physical and we are very happy to have the player,” Eppler told reporters.
Thumbnail photo via Jayne Kamin-Oncea/USA TODAY Sports Images