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Ohtani goes wild at plate after Halos suggest surgery

The Associated Press

The Angels’ Shohei Ohtani hits a two-run home run in the eighth inning against the Rangers on Wednesday.

The Associated Press ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani has new damage in his pitching elbow and the team said Tommy John surgery has been recommended.

A couple of hours before Ohtani hit two home runs against Texas on Wednesday, the Angels said he had an MRI earlier in the day that revealed the problem in his right ulnar collateral ligament.

“There’s more questions out there right now than answers. We’ll take it one step at a time,” manager Mike Scioscia said. “There’s a lot of consulting that Shohei will do with doctors and just see what the best course of action is, and we’ll see where we are.”

The 24-year-old rookie was the Angels’ designated hitter for their series finale against the Rangers. He went 4-for-4 with three RBIs, four runs and a stolen base in a 9-3 victory over Texas.

Ohtani didn’t speak with reporters after the announcement about his injury — or following the game.

“He’s mentally tough in any situation he’s ever in,” Scioscia said. “Tonight, he was a hitter. He didn’t think about what the future is and what the decision is he’s got to make for his elbow. He was out there playing baseball and hitting the ball.”

Asked whether Ohtani would stay in the lineup as a DH beyond Wednesday, Scioscia said: “We’ll see. That’s going to be determined from our medical department.”

Angels general manager Billy Eppler said Ohtani hasn’t formally decided to have Tommy John surgery. Eppler and Ohtani plan to have an in-depth conversation about his future Monday after the Angels return from their road trip.

“We committed to each other in this process, and we will get through it together as a team,” Eppler said. “But I do feel disappointment for the people in that clubhouse, and primarily Shohei.”

The latest development has been dreaded by the Angels and Ohtani’s millions of fans since he was diagnosed with a sprained UCL following a start June 6. After receiving a platelet-rich plasma injection and an injection of stem cells, he was hitting again in early July, and he returned to the mound with his start Sunday at Houston.

Ohtani lasted only 2⅓ innings in that start against the Astros, and he had a drastic drop in velocity during the game. He had been scheduled to throw a light bullpen session Wednesday, but never did after reporting that his elbow was sore. The medical staff then decided that he should get the new MRI in Texas.

The Angels and Ohtani clearly took a well-calculated risk in allowing the right-hander to pitch again this season after the Grade 2 sprain of his elbow ligament was discovered. Mindful of the typical recovery timetable from Tommy John surgery, they elected to see whether Ohtani could pitch again during a time frame when he would still likely miss only one full big league season, allowing him to conceivably return in 2020.

Eppler declined to confirm any such math, but the Angels realized the attempt to treat Ohtani’s elbow with rest and injections might not work.

“It was something that we felt could happen, but we wanted to take a more conservative approach at this moment in time, and did that,” Eppler said.

Although Ohtani is enjoying success as the Angels’ designated hitter, Eppler flatly declared that the Angels still see Ohtani as a two-way player, however long they must wait for his pitching career to resume.

Eppler declined to speculate on when Ohtani could return to the lineup as a hitter in 2019 if he had Tommy John surgery soon, noting that Ohtani hasn’t even decided whether to get it done.

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