Angels’ Shohei Ohtani had platelet-rich plasma injection in pitching elbow, GM confirms
Newly signed Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani had a platelet-rich plasma injection on his right pitching elbow in October, the team’s general manager confirmed.
Documentation of Ohtani’s medical history was circulated to major league teams pursuing Ohtani, Angels GM Billy Eppler told media outlets. Eppler added that Ohtani’s agent said such injections are often used in Japan as a preventive measure.
In addition, Ohtani has a first-degree sprain of the ulnar collateral ligament, but Eppler told media outlets: “We are pleased with the results of the physical, and we are very happy to have the player.”
On Wednesday, manager Mike Scioscia echoed Eppler’s comments and said there are no concerns with Ohtani’s health.
“The understanding we have is that it’s something that’s behind him,” Scioscia said. “There’s no concern. There are no restrictions. He’ll be full go in spring training.”
Scioscia reiterated that the Angels are thinking about using Ohtani as part of a six-man rotation in 2018.
While UCL injuries can lead to Tommy John surgery, several pitchers — including New York Yankees right-hander Masahiro Tanaka and Boston Red Sox left-hander Chris Sale — have had PRP injection therapy as a more conservative treatment and continued to pitch without further issues.
Ohtani, 23, a right-handed pitcher and a left-handed power hitter, signed with the Angels this past weekend after being wooed by nearly every major league team. The Angels plan to use him as both a starting pitcher and a designated hitter.
The Angels will pay a $20 million posting fee to Ohtani’s previous club, the Hokkaido Nippon-Ham Fighters, but Ohtani will not be paid a huge salary for the next three seasons. Ohtani, who will be under the Angels’ contractual control for six years, was to sign a minor league contract but would receive up to $2,315,000 in international bonus money from the Angels.
“It didn’t change the equation,” one team official told Sports Illustrated about Ohtani’s medical reports. “Worst-case scenario, if he loses two years, even if you wind up paying $60 million for four years, he’s still a bargain.”
Ohtani was 3-2 with a 3.20 ERA this year while slowed by thigh and ankle injuries, but those numbers don’t indicate the potential seen in a pitcher whose fastball has been clocked at more than 100 mph. While he occasionally has struggled with control, Ohtani is widely thought to be a surefire big league pitching prospect.
Scouts are more divided on Ohtani’s ability to hit big league pitching consistently, but the Angels intend to find out. He hit .332 in 65 games with 8 homers and 31 RBIs last season, occasionally unleashing the tape-measure blasts that had teams salivating.
In 2016, Ohtani hit .322 with 22 home runs and 67 RBIs in 104 games. He also was 10-4 with a 1.86 ERA.