Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani will delay his decision on whether he will undergo Tommy John surgery until the end of the season, he told reporters Friday.
Ohtani intends to finish the 2018 campaign as a hitter before making the call regarding the reconstructive elbow surgery that has been recommended to him, which would keep him off the mound in a major league game until 2020.
“Nothing is set right now,” Ohtani said through his interpreter. “I have a few options out there. I am still trying to look into every single option. I will make a decision sometime toward the end of the season.”
Ohtani underwent an MRI on Wednesday that showed new damage to his ulnar collateral ligament, prompting the recommendation to have the surgery. He responded to the news by going 4-for-4 and hitting two home runs in that night’s game against the Texas Rangers.
Ohtani clubbed a three-run home run against the Chicago White Sox on Friday, his fourth in his last three games. It gave him 19 on the season, a major league record for Japanese-born rookies.
Angels general manager Billy Eppler told reporters on a conference call Wednesday night that he and Ohtani will discuss the 24-year-old’s next steps when the team returns from its current road trip on Monday.
“I’m trying to take it as positive as possible,” Ohtani said. “I’ll still be able to hit next year, so I’ll try to stay positive.”
Ohtani added that he has no intention to give up pitching.
On Sunday night, Ohtani pitched for the first time since June 6, going 2 1/3 innings in the Angels’ 4-2 loss to the Houston Astros. He threw 49 pitches, striking out two and walking two. In the first two innings, his fastball reached as high as 99 mph. By the third inning, it had fallen to between 89 and 92 mph.
The Angels signed Ohtani in December. It was reported shortly afterward that the Japanese star had a first-degree sprain of his right UCL and that he had underwent a platelet-rich plasma (PRP) shot in October to treat the elbow pain.
A day after he was placed on the 10-day disabled list in June with a right UCL sprain, he received stem-cell and PRP injections in his elbow, treatments the team hoped would eliminate any need for surgery despite reports then suggesting a procedure was likely.
“Somewhere in the back of my mind, I was preparing to get Tommy John,” Ohtani said. “That’s something that was in the back of my mind the whole time.”
He returned from the DL in July to continue hitting and has appeared in 83 games at designated hitter. Ohtani is batting .287 with 50 RBIs.
On the mound, Ohtani is 4-2 with a 3.31 ERA in 10 starts.
—Field Level Media