Angels Optimistic Shohei Ohtani Will Play Again In 2018

Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani throws during the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Detroit Tigers Wednesday

ESPN's Pedro Gomez reported earlier Monday that the Angels were expecting Ohtani to need Tommy John surgery, which would keep him out until the 2020 season.

There were reports that Ohtani may need Tommy John surgery and that his season would be over.

However Angels GM Eppler swiftly played down the reports early Monday, telling the MLB Network that there had been no change in Ohtani's condition.

Gomez also pointed out, the longer the Angels wait now to see if Ohtani absolutely needs the surgery, the longer his road to recovery will be. They're trying to hold out because they're in the middle of a season, they're kind of competitive right now, he is their best pitcher. "There's three grades of an ulnar collateral ligament injury, Grade 1 being the mildest; Grade 2 - which is what Ohtani is having right now - is a more severe sprain; Grade 3 being a full tear, where you've gotta have Tommy John surgery", Gomez said on "SportsCenter".

The Angels signed Ohtani in December. The Angels' initial plan was to shut him down for a few weeks after he received a platelet-rich-plasma (PRP) injection Thursday, but it appears they'll try to nip his elbow issues in the bud by going the surgery route. Speaking to reporters then, Eppler said he hoped that treatment would be enough. Ohtani's devastating split-finger fastball is a pitch that puts significant strain on the elbow.

"As the game adrenaline wore off, (Ohtani) said, 'My elbow is getting a little stiff, '" Eppler said. He has stuck out 61 batters in 49 1/3 innings.

The Angels would surely welcome just Ohtani's bat, as the DH has posted a.289/.372/.535 slash line with six home runs and 20 RBIs in 114 at-bats.

Eppler answered affirmatively when asked if Ohtani would be playing if he were only a hitter.

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