Angels Not Concerned About Ohtani’s Elbow

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla.--The Angels are still thrilled they came out on top in the Shohei Ohtani sweepstakes.

As far as a Yahoo! Sports report that broke late Tuesday night revealing Ohtani has damage to his UCL, manager Mike Scioscia said Wednesday the team has zero concern about the Japanese star's health moving forward.

"I think that’s past him and our understanding is there are no restrictions at all going into Spring Training," Scioscia said. "He’ll get down there in plenty of time and be ready to go."

Ohtani, who signed with the Angels on Dec. 8, pitched only 25.2 innings in Japan last year due to an ankle injury that required surgery in October. The Yahoo! report stated Ohtani had an MRI that revealed a first-degree sprain of his UCL in is right elbow and that he received a platelet-rich plasma injection in October as well.

Teams received the medial report prior to Ohtani's posting, and still pursued him heavily.

"Shohei underwent a thorough physical with MRI scans to both his elbow and his shoulder," general manager Billy Eppler said in a statement to the Orange County Register. "Those are scans we conduct whenever we sign a pitcher. Based on the readings of those MRIs, there are not signs of acute trauma in the elbow. It looks consistent with players his age. We are pleased with the results of the physical and we are very happy to have the player."

To that end, Scioscia said he expects Ohtani to have a standard spring training, including a schedule that intermixes the drills necessary for to prepare him to both pitch and hit in 2018.

"No restrictions with Shohei," Scioscia said. "The only understanding we have is it really just is something that’s behind him. There’s no concern, and there’s no restrictions. He’ll be full go in spring training."

Independent of Ohtani's injury, the Angels have begun making plans to try out a six-man rotation in 2018. The move to a six-man rotation would give Ohtani an extra day to bat as the designated hitter, as well as give more rest to an Angels pitching staff recently maligned by injuries. Garret Richards (six starts), Andrew Heaney (five starts), Matt Shoemaker (14 starts) and Tyler Skaggs (16 starts) all missed significant time with injuries in 2017 and all have major arm injuries in their history.

"It’s something we’re considering," Scioscia said. "I think think that some rotations function better with pitchers pitching on normal rest…Some guys certainly have a track record of being more effective when that happens. With Shohei, there’s a lot of things we’re going to consider about how many starts he’s going to get and where he’s going to fit in our rotation. We haven’t made any determination but certainly something to consider."

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