Shohei Ohtani’s pitching elbow may not be major league ready after all. According to Yahoo!’s Jeff Passan, Ohtani has a first-degree sprain of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow. While that is a the least-severe UCL injury, if things get worse he could require surgery.
The Los Angeles Angeles apparently knew about the elbow issue before they signed the Japanese phenom.
Ohtani’s received treatment for pain in the elbow on October 20, receiving a PRP injection to promote healing. A report of the injury was sent to all the teams involved in the Ohtani sweepstakes.
Oh, and in addition to the ligament issue, a “small free body” is floating in Ohtani’s elbow near his UCL. None of that sounds good.
Here’s what Angels GM Billy Eppler told Yahoo! Sports about the issue:
“Shohei underwent a thorough physical with MRI scans to both his elbow and his shoulder. Those are scans we conduct whenever we sign a pitcher. Based on the readings of those MRIs, there are not signs of acute trauma in the elbow. It looks consistent with players his age. We are pleased with the results of the physical and we are very happy to have the player.”
Ohtani only threw 25.1 innings this season for the Nippon Ham Fighters after his missed most of the season with a strained hamstring, so it’s not like he’s got a clean injury history.
We’ve seen minor elbow injuries rapidly turn worse before, so you wonder if the Angels just go all-in and have Ohtani get surgery. A torn UCL almost always results in Tommy John surgery, and given that Ohtani is only 23, it might be best to have him get the surgery over with if rehab doesn’t go well.
Eppler sounded positive in his assessment and I’m sure the Angels will have Ohtani attempt to slowly work things out. But as with any UCL issues he will be closely monitored.