Shohei Ohtani Injured?
On what turned out to be a night full of surprises both inside the sports world (Aaron Rodgers’ announcement of returning to practice) and outside of it (Democrat Doug Jones’ win over Republican Roy Moore for Alabama Senate), perhaps the biggest surprise of all in either world came towards the end of the night.
Yahoo! Sports MLB writer Jeff Passan reported that the Los Angeles Angels’ Shohei Ohtani, the heavily sought-after pitcher/outfielder from Japan who ultimately signed with the Halos, has a first-degree sprain of his right ulnar collateral ligament (UCL). The UCL sprain is in his throwing elbow, which could significantly affect his ability to be a two-way player for the Angels in 2018 and beyond.
News: Los Angeles Angels star Shohei Ohtani has a damaged ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow, according to a physical obtained by Yahoo Sports. Details: https://t.co/O0BQKqzd6J
— Jeff Passan (@JeffPassan) December 13, 2017
Has Ohtani Been A Health Concern All Along?
According to the medical reports from Japan, Ohtani underwent a platelet-rich plasma shot (PRP) in October to try and treat the pain. This came shortly after having arthroscopic surgery on his right ankle, which set him back for much of his 2016 Japan Series and spring training in 2017. The November report on his elbow went on to say that “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.”
While the phrases “elbow issues” and “Tommy John surgery” have been in vogue for pitchers across the game in recent years, it’s troubling that Ohtani went out of the way to undergo the PRP treatment. For Angels fans, this sounds awfully like a red flag, and should hit home a bit hard. Arguably the team’s best pitcher, Garrett Richards, had a PRP injection in his pitching elbow in May 2016, and subsequently had much of the last two seasons cut short. Other pitchers such as Clay Buchholz and Drew Smyly who have experimented with the PRP shot have still had to eventually have Tommy John surgery.
It remains to be seen how this will affect the 23-year-old budding star’s availability for spring training and/or Opening Day. With some rest and a bit of time off this offseason, he could be 100% and none of this news will really matter.
The Yankees Luck Out
Yet you can’t help but think that right now, somewhere in New York, Yankees general manager Brian Cashman is licking his chops. Of course, after Shohei Ohtani removed the Yankees from his list of desired teams, Cashman started and successfully finished the aggressive pursuit of putting Marlins OF and reigning NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton in pinstripes.
It’s funny how quickly some dominoes can fall when it comes to baseball and trades/free agency within the sport. Let’s hope it works out for all parties involved.