Yahoo Sports obtained a physical that reportedly shows damage to the ulnar collateral ligament in Ohtani's right elbow.
Angels pitcher/outfielder Shohei Ohtani has a damaged ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, according to a physical obtained by Yahoo Sports. The UCL is the ligament that requires Tommy John surgery to repair, a procedure that often keeps pitchers out of baseball for more than a year.
Yahoo is reporting that a report conducted by a Japanese doctor on Nov. 28 in Tokyo shows that Ohtani has a first-degree sprain of the UCL in his right elbow.
A two-way star who dominated the Japanese league, Ohtani signed with the Angels last week after he was pursued by multiple Major League teams. Angels manager Mike Scioscia said the team plans to use Ohtani, 23, as a two-way player, meaning he will both pitch and hit on nights when he does not start on the mound.
“Although partial damage of UCL in deep layer of his right UCL exists… he is able to continue full baseball participation with sufficient elbow care program,” the report says, per Yahoo.
A first-degree sprain is the most mild of UCL injuries, and multiple pitchers—including fellow Japanese transplant Masahiro Tanaka— have been able to continue pitching at the Major League level with similar sprains.
Ohtani recently had a platelet-rich plasma injection in that same right elbow, Sports Illustrated’s Tom Verducci reports. He has struggled with injuries recently—Ohtani missed large chunks of the 2017 due to lower-body injuries, only appearing in 65 games as a hitter and making five starts on the mound. He skipped the World Baseball Classic in March due to the lingering effects of an ankle injury suffered the previous October. He then missed several weeks at the start of the season due to a thigh injury. He underwent surgery on the injured ankle in October.