July 20, 2018 / 2:56 AM / 10 months ago

Ohtani cleared to resume throwing following checkup

Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani underwent a six-week checkup on the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow on Thursday and has been cleared to resume throwing, the team announced.

FILE PHOTO: Jul 15, 2018; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels pitcher Shohei Ohtani (17) walks off the field after striking out during the ninth inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kelvin Kuo-USA TODAY Sports

“Shohei Ohtani had his six week re-evaluation with Dr. Steve Yoon at the Kerlan Jobe Institute,” the team said in a release. “His ligament continues to show improved healing. He has been medically cleared to begin a throwing progression. We will update specifics regarding his progression and rehabilitation schedule at a more appropriate time.”

Ohtani, who pitches right-handed, went on the disabled list June 8 with a Grade 2 sprain of his right UCL. He returned to action on July 3, but only as a designated hitter. At the time of Ohtani’s reactivation, general manager Billy Eppler said it would still be three weeks before Ohtani would be re-evaluated with regard to his ability to pitch.

At the time, Eppler would not say whether or not Ohtani would pitch again this season, but he maintained the team’s optimism that Tommy John surgery — which would likely sideline Ohtani until 2020 — would not be needed.

Eppler and manager Mike Scioscia have each said multiple times that the team is optimistic about Ohtani’s chances of recovering without surgery, though an ESPN report in early June said Ohtani would “probably” need surgery.

Ohtani had a platelet-rich plasma injection in October, before he signed with the Angels, to treat previous elbow pain, and then had stem-cell and PRP injections on June 7, the day before his original DL stint.

Ohtani, 24, is 4-1 with a 3.10 ERA in nine starts as a pitcher this season and has struck out 61 batters in 49 1/3 innings. He also is batting .283 with seven home runs and 22 RBIs in 45 games.

He has batted 6-for-24 (.250) with two doubles, a homer, three walks and 10 strikeouts since returning from the DL.

The Angels enter the second half of the season 49-48, 14 games out of first in the AL West and nine games out of the final wild-card spot.

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