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Shohei Ohtani Cleared To Hit, Avoids Tommy John For Now

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Shohei Ohtani (Getty Images)

The Angels are getting Shohei Ohtani back. Partially.

General manager Billy Eppler said Thursday that an MRI showed improvement in Ohtani’s damaged elbow ligament and that the Japanese two-way sensation is cleared to begin hitting immediately.

Ohtani, BA’s No. 2 prospect entering the season, will begin taking batting practice and could face live pitching as soon as this weekend. As for pitching, Eppler said Ohtani will be re-evaluated in three weeks.

Importantly, Eppler said Ohtani does not need Tommy John surgery.

“No doctor has told me that Shohei needs surgical intervention at this time,” Eppler said.

Ohtani went 4-1, 3.10 in nine starts and hit .282/.372/.535 in 34 games before going on the disabled list with a grade 2 sprain of his ulnar collateral ligament. He had a platelet-rich plasma injection on June 7.

Eppler said Ohtani will not play in any rehab games and will begin hitting in a “private and controlled setting.” Eppler also said he was assured Ohtani will not further damage the ligament by hitting.

“I asked the doctors that many different ways,” Eppler said. “With the way he swings and the ligament, it will not damage it any more.”

Eppler left open the possibility Ohtani could join the Angels on their current road trip through Boston, Baltimore and Seattle, but said the team will take it day-by-day and see what kind of feedback they receive before making a firm determination on his return.

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2018 Prospect Graduation Grades

Re-grading the 10 best graduated MLB prospects from 2018, starting with Ronald Acuna Jr. and Shohei Ohtani.

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