Japanese two-way star Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels is hoping he does not have to undergo Tommy John surgery. On Thursday, he was cleared to begin throwing again.
The Angels, through a statement released in Thursday said that the six-week re-evaluation of Ohtani revealed that the ulnar collateral ligament shows improved healing.
Ohtani had platelet plasma and stem cells injected into his ligament June 7, just a day after complaining he felt stiffness in his elbow following a start against Kansas City.
Less than one month from the injections Ohtani returned to the plate as the designated hitter and since has 6 hits in 24 official at bats with one home run.
On Friday, the Angels start their second half of the season hosting the American League West front running Houston Astros. The team did not disclose any timetable for the potential return of Ohtani to the rotation.
Last week, prior to the break for the All-Star Game, pitcher Garrett Richards, another member of the starting rotations for the Angels, who two years ago opted to have stem-cell therapy, decided to undergo Tommy John surgery and will be sidelined until 2020.
Regardless if Ohtani opted to have surgery at this time or the end of this season, he would not return to pitching until sometime in 2020. Therefore, the team does not lose time by waiting to determine if the alternative stem-cell treatment is successful. However, they must make sure that the Japanese star is able to throw with full velocity from the mound prior to announcing he will not need to undergo surgery and at this point it appears that he will attempt to at least do so.
Up to the break for the All-Star Game, Ohtani had an OPS of .887 in his 157 appearances at the plate and an ERA of 3.10 across 49 1/3 innings in his first season in MLB. Billy Eppler the general manager of the Angels would not acknowledge that Tommy John surgery was a possibility when he gave interviews last month about Ohtani.
Eppler at the time said that no one has mentioned surgery to him so he was not going to even think about that until a qualified doctor tells home to start thinking about that possibility.