Japanese Sensation Shohei Ohtani recently signed with the Los Angeles Angels, but the “Babe Ruth” of Japan may have already done damage with his new ball club. According to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports, Ohtani has an elbow injury that could seriously impact his future and the Angels’ plans for him.
Ohtani has been diagnosed with a first degree UCL sprain in his right elbow after a physical with the Angels. Ohtani is a right handed pitcher, meaning this could impact his future long term if he continues pitching. Passan says that Ohtani underwent a platelet-rich plasma shot in October in terms of hopefully allowing the elbow to heal correctly. while this not the worst of UCL injuries, this is can be a potential devastating injury that could force Ohtani to go under the knife for Tommy John Surgery. This kind of surgery for pitchers, forces them to sit out at least a year without throwing.
Coming out of the surgery, the chances of pitching the same is out the window. Sure, pitchers can be better from it. Here’s how I see this, when any player goes under the knife, they come out a different ballplayer. You are not returning to same player that you were before. Surgery affects the way how ballplayers play. I always think having surgery in specific areas always limits how you move. Tommy John surgery, in my opinion, can be really hard to recover from. I have seen major league pitchers go through 2 TJ surgeries, sometimes 3. Reason players go through it is because they want to continue to play baseball. Players are just not the same.
For example, look at Hong Chih Kuo, a former Los Angeles Dodgers reliever, he had the surgery FOUR times! He was a decent pitcher for LA, but going under the knife four times, he just wouldn’t be as affective as he was the first time before he underwent the surgery. Now free agent, Yu Darvish, underwent the surgery in 2015. One of the most dominating pitchers from Japan had surgery and he just wasn’t the same since. It led to the point where Darvish was thought to be tipping pitches in the World Series 2017, but most was not able to execute his pitch location, according to an unnamed Houston Astro. Point is, Ohtani is in danger of undergoing the surgery if his elbow isn’t proper taken care of in his first year in the MLB.
Ohtani put the Angels in a tough position. The Halos had big plans for him. They had plans to have Ohtani be a top two pitcher in the starting rotation while hitting in the lineup as a designated hitter on days that he doesn’t pitch. With this injury, there is possibility that Ohtani needs to rest his arm and save it for almost up to the end of the season, perhaps going into the beginning of the 2019 season. The Angels don’t need to go through what I call, a Blake Griffin situation. What I mean by that, is Griffin was drafted number one in the draft by the Los Angeles Clippers, then gets injured and is out for the year. Griffin was fine the next couple seasons, but this year, he got injured on an Austin Rivers fall to his legs on a loose ball. It was bad. Griffin is becoming very fragile. Sure, it’s different injuries in different sports, but the idea of injuries is there. The Angels don’t need to be a rebuild situation at this point while they have the best player on the planet in outfielder Mike Trout.
Ohtani needs to be taken care of properly or else they fall into a situation where the Angels need to be careful how Ohtani moves on the field. Despite being on an affordable contract, the Angels are forced to keep a close eye on their prized free agent rookie for however many years they have with him, unfortunately.
What options do you think the Angels should move forward with? Take of care of Ohtani and let him miss most of the season or let him pitch this season? We want to know your thoughts on Ohtani’s situation by tweeting to @TheUtilityMan17 on Twitter!