Los Angeles Angels
Heyman | Sources say Ohtani UCL tear is a new one
The Los Angeles Angels seemed to do everything right for two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani, but sources say the Grade 2 tear found is a new tear, unrelated to the Grade 1 tear he was reported to have when he picked the Angels.
Angels GM Billy Eppler declined to discuss anything related to the diagnosis that the Angels hadn’t publicly revealed, including whether it was a new tear. It isn’t known whether being a new and different tear affects his prognosis or timetable, which seems undetermined anyway, but it isn’t necessarily a negative. More important might be the location of the tear, which is not publicly known.
Regardless, the Angels, after exhaustive consultations with Ohtani’s training people and his former team, had Ohtani on a lower general pitch count and the same once-a-week regimen. He averaged 112 pitches per start in 2016, and 106 in 2014, and he was averaging fewer than 100 with the Angels when they received the news of the tear for the phenom who’d hit 101 mph on the mound and wowed fans. He was averaging just 89 pitches per start with the Angels and reached 100 pitches just twice.
“His usage was scaled back,” Eppler said by phone.
The Angels figured that with differences in the mound, ball, travel and many other things, they’d try to keep things as stress-free as possible. While there was a report that Tommy John surgery is likely, Eppler said they have not been told that by their doctors at Kerlan-Jobe or their medical people; the doctors recommended the issue be treated with PRP and stem cell injections in the hope that he can avoid surgery.
Angels star pitcher Garrett Richards did the same, and while he missed significant time on the mound, he ultimately avoided Tommy John surgery and is pitching well. Masahiro Tanaka is pitching through a Grade 1 tear, Ervin Santana and Felix Hernandez and many others have UCL issues and have been able to keep pitching effectively for years.
“There’s a number of pitchers pitching with it,” Eppler pointed out.
The Angels have been hit much harder than most teams with injuries to arms, but the ailment is at epidemic level throughout baseball.
The Angels seemed to treat Ohtani like the Godsend he is – an extreme talent on the mound as well as at the plate. Eppler called their approach a “thorough and well-reasoned process,” and by all other accounts, it appears to have been just that.
He also said not a day goes by where they don’t gather data and consider the issue.
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