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Angels' Ohtani plans to keep hitting, no decision on surgery

September 8, 2018
Associated Press

CHICAGO (AP) — Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani says he plans to finish this season as the team's designated hitter and hasn't decided yet if he'll have Tommy John surgery.

The 24-year-old rookie maintains he'll be able to return next season as a DH, even though he might not be able to throw again until 2020. He homered in his first at-bat Friday night against the Chicago White Sox, giving him four homers over three games and 19 for the season.

"Nothing's set right now," Ohtani said through a translator. "I have a few options out there. I'm still trying to look into every option. And I will end up making a decision hopefully sometime toward the end of the season."

The Angels announced Wednesday that an MRI showed Ohtani had new damage in his pitching elbow, and that Tommy John surgery was the recommended course of action. Ohtani, who throws right-handed and bats left-handed, later hit two home runs that night in Texas.

"Swinging doesn't affect my elbow in any way," Ohtani said. "I feel like I'm progressing as a hitter right now. I'm getting as many experiences as I can while the games count."

Ohtani entered Friday hitting .287 with 47 RBIs. As a pitcher, he's 4-2 with a 3.31 ERA in 10 starts.

Ohtani was diagnosed with a sprained right ulnar collateral ligament after a start on June 6. After receiving a platelet-rich plasma injection and an injection of stem cells, he was hitting again in early July, and returned to the mound with a start last Sunday at Houston.

Ohtani lasted only 2 1/3 innings against the Astros, and he had a drastic drop in velocity during the game. He had been scheduled to throw a light bullpen session Wednesday, but never did after reporting that his elbow was sore. The medical staff then decided that he should get the new MRI in Texas.

Ohtani said he wasn't surprised by the recommendation for reconstructive elbow surgery.

"I also got hurt in the middle of the season and had the PRP stem-cell shot and I knew it wasn't going to work 100 percent, so somewhere in the back of my mind, I was preparing for the Tommy John, having to get Tommy John," Ohtani said.

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