A’s starter Brett Anderson undergoes Tommy John surgery

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Brett Anderson was placed on the disabled list with a sore elbow in early June and Dr. James Andrews later advised him to rest for at least six weeks, which at the time indicated he wouldn’t need to go under the knife.

Unfortunately the time off must not have done much for Anderson’s elbow, as the A’s just announced that the 23-year-old southpaw underwent Tommy John surgery that knocks him out for the remainder of this season and most or perhaps even all of 2012.

Oakland has had tons of injury problems over the years, but losing Anderson is a particularly huge blow.  He was limited to just 19 starts last season due to elbow issues, but emerged as a potential ace with a 2.80 ERA and has a 3.66 career mark in 371 innings. Now he’s out for 12-18 months and no sure thing to pick up right where he left off once he does return. It’s a long, bumpy road coming back from Tommy John surgery and the A’s just lost one of their best long-term building blocks.

All of which makes Anderson’s decision to take the guaranteed money of a long-term deal in March of last year look pretty smart. He’ll make $3 million next season whether he pitches or not, has a $5.5 million salary locked in for 2013, and will get $3 million worth of buyouts if the A’s don’t exercise 2014 and 2015 options.

Shohei Ohtani medically cleared to begin a throwing progression

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The Angels released a medical update on P/DH Shohei Ohtani Thursday evening. Ohtani was reevaluated by Dr. Steve Yoon at the Kerlan Jobe Institute. The right-hander’s sprained UCL showed improved healing and, as a result, he has been cleared to begin a throwing progression.

Ohtani, 24, was diagnosed with a Grade 2 sprain of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow after his June 6 start against the Royals and hasn’t pitched since, though he has been in the lineup as a hitter since July 3. It was initially believed he would undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery. Then the thought was that Ohtani wouldn’t pitch again for the rest of the season, but this update suggests a possibility he could return to the mound before the season is over.

In nine starts, Ohtani put together a 3.10 ERA with a 61/20 K/BB ratio in 49 1/3 innings. As a hitter, he batted .283/.365/.522 with seven home runs and 22 RBI in 157 plate appearances.