Shohei Ohtani seeking second opinion on elbow as he faces the Mets: ‘It sounds like he’ll continue to hit’

Shohei Ohtani will continue to swing the bat until he’s told not to, or until he decides he can’t. Mike Trout, however, will not be active this weekend when the Los Angeles Angels face the Mets in a three-game set at Citi Field.

The Angels were dealt two big blows this week. Ohtani, their two-way superstar, tore his ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow in the first game of a doubleheader against the Cincinnati Reds on Wednesday. The right-handed pitcher/DH is seeking a second opinion and alternative treatments that could help him avoid having to undergo his second Tommy John surgery since 2018.

Then, outfielder Trout went back on the injured list only one game after being activated. The three-time AL MVP and one of the faces of baseball missed most of July and August to rehab from hamate bone surgery in his left hand. The New Jersey native has struggled to stay on the field in recent seasons and an Angels organization that has been marred by dysfunction and bad drafting hasn’t been able to do much without him.

“We made the call to go back and get it right and come back when it’s right,” Trout said Friday afternoon.

This could have been an exciting series between two playoff-bound clubs. But with the Mets having long since given up on the season and the Angels standing 10.5 games back from an AL Wild Card spot, it’s feeling a little anticlimactic. However, Ohtani is playing.

The Angels have long given him the autonomy to call his own shots when it comes to how he handles everything from his workload to the media, and with the 29-year-old set to become a free agent this winter, the club has little say anyway, but the consensus in Anaheim is that he wants to continue to help the team in any way he can.

“I think it’s a testament to him and him and who he is,” said Angels manager Phil Nevin. “And what he’s meant not only to the clubhouse and to me, but what he’s meant to the game. He knows there is a lot of importance left.

The Angels might be out of the race, but Ohtani being healthy is good for baseball. The 2018 Rookie of the Year and 2021 AL MVP draws crowds wherever he goes and the Mets are expecting nothing less this weekend in Queens. The Mets have long been linked to the impending free agent and fans have been eager to try and make baseball’s unicorn feel welcome enough in New York to try playing here.

“It sounds like he’ll continue to hit,” said Mets manager Buck Showalter. “If you love baseball and love the game and want it to do well you like the idea of him doing what he’s been doing, unless it’s done to you,” Showalter said. “When I heard of some of his challenges physically, I felt bad for him. I felt bad for the game, it’s good for the game to be doing that. It’s very special.”

Ohtani has not addressed the media since the injury occurred. There is a large contingent of Japanese media members in New York this weekend, especially with Kodai Senga starting Friday’s game for the Mets. The club opted to keep Senga in line knowing how much it means for the rookie right-hander to face his Japanese countryman and how much it means to the Mets to remain competitive throughout the rest of the season.

“He’s always been about the team and what’s best,” Showalter said. “What actually is the case? We’re all human beings and have emotions about things. It’ll be fun for the fans, I can tell you that.”

Nevin said team doctors have given him the OK to continue swinging a bat. General manager Perry Minasian said Ohtani has not yet received a second opinion but he’s “working on it.” It’s not yet known if it’s a full or partial tear. The league’s home-run leader complained of arm fatigue and cramps in recent weeks, but the Angels opted not to order any imaging.

“No imaging,” Minasian said. “No, there was no arm issue — just fatigue, tired, cramping, dehydration.”

This decision is textbook Arte Moreno, who often chooses to have players stay on the field and work through minor injuries. But as it turns out, this one isn’t so minor.

Minasian also said he has been in touch with Ohtani’s agent, Nez Balelo of CAA. The Angels seem confident that they can convince Ohtani to re-sign next season.

Mets GM Billy Eppler was the one who initially brought Ohtani to North America, but Eppler doesn’t often tip his hand on matters like these. For now, Mets fans should enjoy being able to watch him at the plate this weekend. It might be the only time they get to see him at Citi Field for a while.