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The Anaheim Angels announced Wednesday that Shohei Ohtani will likely need Tommy John surgery to repair UCL damage in his right elbow, meaning that Ohtani is unlikely to pitch until the beginning of the 2020 season. It was awful news for the player, team and baseball fans everywhere, but the good news is that Ohtani’s bat still remains.
Ohtani gave everyone a reminder of what he can do with a bat in his first game since receiving his diagnosis, going 4-for-4 with two homers, three RBIs, a stolen base and a walk against the Texas Rangers on Wednesday.
Shohei Ohtani’s big day after some bad news
After walking and singling in his first two plate appearances, Ohtani crushed a first-pitch fastball into the right-field stands, his second homer since his ill-fated return to the mound on Sunday.
What Tommy John surgery? 😯
— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) September 6, 2018
Ohtani singled again and stole second base in the seventh, then hit another high homer to right field to put an exclamation point on a somber day.
OH. MY. TANI.
Shohei Ohtani simply can't be stopped! pic.twitter.com/lLkew7f5zg
— FOX Sports West (@FoxSportsWest) September 6, 2018
The performance was the second multi-homer game of Ohtani’s career and the second four-hit game of his career, with the first instance of both parameters coming on Aug. 3 against the Indians. However, Ohtani went 4-for-5 without a walk or stolen base that day, so there’s a clear argument that Ohtani’s greatest performance as a hitter came the same day as his lowest moment as a pitcher.
Shohei Ohtani still has a bat
That dichotomy today between Ohtani the hitter and Ohtani the pitcher demonstrates both the kind of unprecedented talent we’re dealing with here and the unusual situation the Angels will face as Ohtani rehabs from Tommy John surgery.
Ohtani continued to hit this season despite suffering a grade 2 UCL sprain in June that kept him off the mound until Sunday, and he hit well. The 24-year-old entered Sunday hitting .323/.413/.692 with seven homers since Aug. 1 and has demonstrated he can bring big-league value even as a full-time designated hitter.
However, the Angels will certainly want Ohtani the pitcher back eventually and the rehab for Tommy John surgery, while often effective, is infamously grueling. Ohtani figures to undergo the procedure sometime in the near future, then rehab throughout the offseason and into the season.
Once the season rolls around, there might come a time when the Angels have to choose between giving Ohtani as much rest as possible to rehab his elbow or inserting a powerful bat in the middle of the lineup. It won’t be an easy decision.
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