The Angels have recommended that two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani undergo Tommy John surgery after an MRI exam revealed new damage in the ulnar collateral ligament of his right pitching elbow.
What remains to be seen is whether the Angels will continue to employ Ohtani as their designated hitter. Ohtani is penciled in as the No. 3 hitter in Los Angeles' lineup on Wednesday for the club's matchup against the Rangers in Arlington, and according to multiple reports, he will continue to serve as a hitter for the Angels until he undergoes surgery. Ohtani has not officially decided if or when he will get the procedure.
Ohtani's future in the Majors is dependent on how he and the Angels plan to move forward. Position players typically return to the field in less time following Tommy John surgery, such as Yankees rookie infielder Gleyber Torres, who missed about half a season in 2017 after tearing the UCL in his non-throwing elbow. Dodgers star Corey Seager underwent Tommy John surgery this past May, and he's expected to be on the team's Opening Day roster in '19. Other notable position players to receive the surgery include former MLB outfielder Carl Crawford, Angels infielder Zack Cozart, Twins third baseman Miguel Sano and Red Sox catcher Christian Vazquez -- all of whom were able to return to the field in a year's time or less.
But the turnaround for pitchers can often take more than a year due to the increased stress that pitching -- particularly at high velocity -- puts on the elbow. Should Ohtani elect to receive the surgery, he would not only miss the rest of 2018, but potentially all of the '19 season as well. So both Ohtani and his club must decide if he will continue to serve as a two-way player or focus on just hitting or pitching in the coming years.
The 24-year-old Ohtani returned to the mound Sunday to pitch his first game in nearly two months after an MRI revealed a Grade 2 sprain in his UCL in early June. Ohtani allowed a pair of runs over 2 1/3 innings via a homer by Astros outfielder George Springer, and he showed noticeably diminished velocity on his fastball before departing in the third inning.
Should Ohtani's season indeed be finished as a pitcher, he will end with a 4-2 record and a 3.31 ERA with 63 strikeouts over 51 2/3 innings. As a hitter, he has mashed 16 homers with 16 doubles and 44 RBIs. On Tuesday, he hit his first homer of the season off a left-handed pitcher.
Matt Kelly/MLB.com
 

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