David Aardsma getting “close” to walking without crutches

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David Aardsma is still walking with crutches six weeks after hip surgery, but the Mariners’ closer said yesterday that he’s “close” to ditching them and is currently able to put about 80 percent of his weight on his legs.

His return timetable has already been pushed back to mid-April at the earliest and even that will require Aardsma to start throwing soon and avoid any setbacks along the way. And he told Greg Johns of MLB.com that doctors have advised him needing “to back off” when there’s some soreness “is probably going to happen.”

In other words, it won’t be surprising if the Mariners are without their closer for most of the opening month, which means any plans to trade Aardsma will likely have to wait until June or so. Brandon League figures to close in the meantime.

Report: Shohei Ohtani has sprained UCL in pitching elbow

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The Angels signed Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani for a $2.3 million signing bonus last weekend. They may have damaged goods on their hands. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports that Ohtani underwent a physical that revealed a first-degree sprain of his ulnar collateral ligament. As a result, he got a platelet-rich plasma injection on October 20. This was made known to teams after Ohtani entered MLB’s posting system, so it wasn’t like the Angels went into this blind.

Ohtani’s report said, “Although partial damage of UCL in deep layer of his right UCL exists, he is able to continue full baseball participation with sufficient elbow care program.” It also said Ohtani “will most likely be available to start his throwing program approximately a month from the PRP.”

Passan notes that the report also mentioned that a “small free body” floats in Ohtani’s elbow near his UCL.

Ohtani isn’t without other injuries. He battled hamstring and ankle issues throughout 2017 and underwent right ankle surgery back in October. Thankfully for the Angels, this diagnosis is about as good as it could be considering the circumstances. However, if Ohtani does exacerbate his UCL issue, he may ultimately need Tommy John surgery at some point, which would take him out of action for at least a year.