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Angels two-way star reportedly hurt pitching elbow

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. – Japanese two-way superstar Shohei Ohtani, whose signing with the Los Angeles Angels last week was hailed as a game-changer for that franchise, reportedly has an injured ligament in his pitching elbow that, while not considered immediately dire, required a platelet-rich-plasma shot in October and could portend more serious problems down the road.

According to a report late Tuesday by Yahoo Sports, which cited the results of a physical exam Ohtani underwent in Tokyo in late November, the injury is characterized as a first-degree sprain of his right (throwing) ulnar collateral ligament. Although a first-degree sprain is considered mild, further damage could require Tommy John ligament-replacement surgery.

For now, Ohtani is not considered a candidate for surgery. The PRP shot, in which centrifuge-spun blood is returned to the body to promote healing, was performed Oct. 20, according to Yahoo. While elbow injuries are common among pitchers, a PRP shot indicates a higher level of concern. In addition, Yahoo reported, Ohtani has a “small free body” – probably a bone chip – floating near his UCL.

Ohtani, a 23-year-old who is both a right-handed pitcher and left-handed slugger with impeccable credentials in Japan in both disciplines, was posted by his Japanese team, the Nippon Ham Fighters, earlier this month, and after a thorough vetting process, last week chose to sign with the Angels. Because of MLB’s international-signing rules, the Angels signed Ohtani for just a $2.3 million bonus – plus a $20 million posting fee to the Ham Fighters.

Ohtani missed much of the 2017 season in Japan with a right ankle injury that ultimately required surgery in October and was expected to sideline him for three months this winter.

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