Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani has been cleared to begin a hitting program as he works his way back from a sprain to his ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow, as first reported by Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic.
Shohei Ohtani underwent an MRI this morning, which showed improvement. He will begin a hitting progression immediately. He will be evaluated in three weeks.
— Fabian Ardaya (@FabianArdaya) June 28, 2018
Ohtani went to the 10-day DL on June 8
Ohtani hit the disabled list earlier in the month with a grade 2 sprain to the UCL in his throwing arm. He received platelet-rich plasma and stem cell injections for the injury and has been out ever since. But when Ohtani underwent an MRI on Thursday morning, doctors determined he had made enough progress to begin a hitting progression, Angels GM Billy Eppler said, per Bob Nightengale of USA Today.
Ohtani will be re-evaluated in another three weeks to determine whether he will be able to pitch again this season as well as to assess his progress hitting. For now, though, he is cleared to begin normal batting practice, per Maria Guardado of MLB.com.
Eppler added that Ohtani does not need surgery, according to Guardado.
This isn’t the only time Ohtani has had elbow issues: He had a grade 1 UCL sprain after the Angels signed him, an injury the club knew about, per Jeff Passan.
The Angels could use Ohtani back soon
Though Ohtani appears to be a long way from pitching, the Angels could certainly benefit from having his bat back in the lineup. In 129 plate appearances prior to the most recent injury, Ohtani was slashing .289/.372/.535 with 15 walks as well as six home runs and 20 RBIs in 34 games. As a pitcher, Ohtani is 4-1 with a 3.10 ERA.
More importantly, though, the Angels as a team have struggled without Ohtani. On June 6 — the last game Ohtani played — Los Angeles won to move to 35-28. Since, the team has won just six of its 18 games and sits at 41-40. The Angels have dealt with a bevy of injuries and just lost infielder Zack Cozart to season-ending shoulder surgery.
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