ANAHEIM (AP) — Los Angeles Angels two-way rookie Shohei Ohtani will be re-evaluated within the next three weeks to gauge progress in his recovery from a sprained ligament in his right elbow.
Angels manager Mike Scioscia announced the slight adjustment to Ohtani’s timeline Monday before his club opened an interleague series against Arizona.
Scioscia also said the Angels are “very optimistic” about Ohtani’s prognosis. The Japanese star has been simulating swings with a bat in his left hand and participating in strength training and running for the past three to four days. A right-handed pitcher and left-handed batter, he won’t throw for at least two more weeks.
Ohtani is “doing as much as he can without impacting his elbow,” Scioscia said.
The Angels initially said Ohtani would be re-evaluated within three weeks after his injections of platelet-rich plasma and stem cells. That procedure occurred June 7, one day after the Grade 2 sprain was discovered.
Scioscia said Monday the checkup will happen “in two to three weeks,” indicating the Angels might not take the next step in Ohtani’s recovery until July.
“We’re not quite there yet,” Scioscia said. “But I think within the two- or three-week range from now, when he’s evaluated, we’ll certainly have an idea of what you can add to his workload, what he’s able to do. Get an idea where exactly the healing process is, quantify it, and we’ll have an idea.”
Ohtani hasn’t played since June 6, when he left a start after four innings due to another blister on his fingers. The Angels subsequently discovered the strained ligament and took quick steps in hopes of avoiding Tommy John surgery for their prized rookie.
Scioscia declined to speculate about whether Ohtani could continue his career as a designated hitter if he was unable to pitch for a prolonged period.
“(When) we talk about Shohei, it’s really two different players,” Scioscia said. “And one does not necessarily impact the other unless he was doing both at the same time, like when he’s pitching and he needed days off to recover and then he could hit.”
Ohtani, who turns 24 next month, is off to an outstanding start in his first stateside season as baseball’s most successful two-way player in decades. He is 4-1 with a 3.10 ERA on the mound, and is batting .289 with six homers and 20 RBIs during 30 starts as a designated hitter.
The Angels have been on the road since Ohtani’s injury was discovered, but they returned to Anaheim on Sunday night to begin their only week at home until July.
“Initially, he was obviously very disappointed (by the injury),” Scioscia said. “I think that as he’s gone through this first week of therapy, I think he’s come to grips with it and understands exactly what the process will be. The medical staff and Dr. (Steve) Yoon are very optimistic, so we’ll evaluate in two to three weeks, get a better idea.”