An MRI revealed new damage to Ohtani's UCL.
Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani did not let bad news ruin his night. The rookie hit two home runs Wednesday night, just hours after the club announced that an MRI revealed new damage to his ulnar collateral ligament. Tommy John surgery was recommended to repair the area.
In June, Ohtani landed on the disabled list with what was defined as a grade 2 UCL sprain of his elbow. It was reported that the damage was not related to a previous grade 1 tear he sustained ahead of signing with the Angels in December.
Shohei Ohtani underwent an MRI on his right elbow earlier today. The imaging revealed new damage to his ulnar collateral ligament (UCL). Based on these findings, UCL reconstruction surgery is the recommended plan of care. Additional information will be provided when appropriate.— Los Angeles Angels (@Angels) September 5, 2018
Ohtani was activated from the DL in July and was permitted to hit. Later in the month, he began working towards rejoining Los Angeles' starting pitching rotation and began throwing by July 21. He made his first post-injury pitching start on Sept. 2, throwing 49 pitches through 2 1/3 innings against the Astros.
According to The Athletic's Fabian Ardaya, the reason the Angels allowed Ohtani to pitch again this season was so that the club could get a read on whether the Japanese star's arm would be ready in advance of next season.
This is why the Angels wanted Shohei Ohtani to be able to return and pitch this season. He didn’t need the surgery before. But if his UCL was going to go, they’d rather it happen now than early next season, further kicking the can down the road.— Fabian Ardaya (@FabianArdaya) September 5, 2018
If Ohtani were to undergo Tommy John, he would likely not pitch again until 2020.
Despite the news, Ohtani was in the Angels' lineup at DH Wednesday night and hit a solo home run in the 5th inning against the Rangers. The homer was Ohtani's second in as many games and was his 17th HR of the season.
Ohtani struck again in the eighth inning with a two-run homer, giving him four hits for the night.
Emerging as a bright spot for the Angels, Ohtani opened the season atop the AL West division race before falling 10-plus games behind by mid-June. Against the Astros, Ohtani became the first player since Babe Ruth in 1919 with 50 IP and 15 HR in a single season.