Shohei Ohtani will be placed on the Los Angeles Angels’ disabled list with a sprained elbow ligament.
The Angels announced the potentially serious injury for their two-way rookie sensation Friday before opening a road trip in Minnesota
Ohtani, who will turn 24 years old next month, underwent injections of platelet-rich plasma and stem cells Thursday in Los Angeles. He will be out for at least three weeks before the Angels re-evaluate him.
The Angels said Ohtani’s ulnar collateral ligament has a Grade 2 sprain, which typically indicates some degree of damage, but not a complete tear. Ohtani’s injury doesn’t always require surgery, while Grade 3 sprains are usually repaired by Tommy John surgery.
Yahoo Sports reported last December that Ohtani had a Grade 1 sprain of his UCL, but Angels general manager Billy Eppler said at the time that there were “no signs of acute trauma” in the ligament.
Ohtani left his last pitching start after four innings Wednesday, but the Angels said it was due to the reoccurrence of a blister on his pitching fingers. He also left his only loss of the year against Boston in April due to a blister.
The Japanese right-hander is 4-1 with a 3.10 ERA in his debut North American season, getting 61 strikeouts with a dazzling mix of 100-mph fastballs and precipitous breaking pitches. The Angels’ opponents are batting just .202 in his nine starts.
Ohtani also is batting .289 with six homers and 20 RBIs as baseball’s most successful two-way player in decades. The designated hitter had cooled off only slightly after an impressive start at the plate, batting .257 with two homers since April.
The Angels have attempted to keep Ohtani fresh by giving him at least a week of mound rest between his pitching starts, adhering to a disciplined plan drawn up by Eppler. While Ohtani was eager for more playing time, the Angels didn’t want to rush Ohtani into a frantic pace in his first big-league season.
Any long-term injury for Ohtani could be crushing to the Angels (35-28), who are trying to keep pace in the high-powered AL West race with Seattle and Houston. They have won four straight and five of six heading into the opener of their nine-game road trip against the Twins.