Cardinals right-hander Michael Wacha has been cleared to begin a throwing program after sitting out the past six weeks with a stress reaction in his shoulder.
No official timetable has been established for Wacha’s return, but general manager John Mozeliak gave a straightforward “yes” answer to Rick Hummel of the St. Louis Post Dispatch when asked if the Cardinals expect the 23-year-old to pitch again this season.
For now the plan is for Wacha to throw for a couple weeks and then be reevaluated to see how his shoulder feels, which seems to indicate early September would be the earliest he might return to the majors. Before being shut down Wacha built on his impressive rookie campaign by posting nearly identical numbers as a sophomore, including a 2.79 ERA and 83/26 K/BB ratio in 90 innings spread over 15 starts.
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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.