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Report: Shohei Ohtani likely to have Tommy John surgery, will be out until 2020

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Pedro Gomez of ESPN reported overnight that the Los Angeles Angels expect Ohtani to undergo Tommy John surgery and miss the remainder of the 2018 season and the entire 2019 season. Here was Gomez’s comment on SportsCenter:

“Everything I’m hearing is that the reality is, he probably will need Tommy John surgery . . . The earliest we might see him, should he have TJ surgery, would be the 2020 season.”

There has been no confirmation by the Angels or anyone close to Ohtani, but nor has there been contradiction. We’ll obviously hear more on this today.

Ohtani was diagnosed with a Grade 2 UCL strain late last week. He underwent a platelet-rich plasma and stem cell injections, with the idea being that he could avoid surgery by doing so. Such a path has worked for Masahiro Tanaka and some other pitchers, but it’s by no means foolproof. The Angels were going to reevaluate him in three weeks. At this point, waiting the three weeks before surgery would likely not harm his timetable should surgery then be decided, so it’s possible that the Angels will still wait and see.

If Ohtani does go under the knife, however, it would be sad, sad ending to his breakout rookie season. Ohtani has wowed baseball by being its first effective two-way player in nearly a century, going 4-1 with a 3.10 ERA and a K/BB ratio of 61/20 in 49.1 innings as a starter and hitting .289/.372/.535 with six homers and 20 RBI in 129 plate appearance as a part-time designated hitter.

Ohtani turns 24 early next month. He signed with the Angels this past offseason as a free agent, but is subject to a full six years of team control per MLB’s Collective Bargaining Agreement. For that reason this setback will not substantially impact the Angels financially nor impact Ohtani’s near or mid-range future in Major League Baseball from a financial perspective, but it’s obviously a big blow to him, the Angels and fans who have come to enjoy him in his brief time in the States.

Here’s hoping he can avoid surgery and get back to his old self via rehab. Given the Angels’ and Ohtani’s long-term interests, however, and given this report, that’s not seeming particularly likely.

UPDATE: Angels’ GM Billy Eppler is denying that any decisions have been made along these lines:

Obviously, of course, the internal chatter Gomez is hearing could be part of the decision making process, so it does not necessarily rebut the report. We’ll know for sure when the Angels announce something for sure.

Video: J.D. Martinez hits league-tying 23rd home run

Seattle Mariners v Boston Red Sox
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The Red Sox and Mariners left nothing on the table Friday night, going head-to-head in a series opener that eventually ended 14-10 in the Sox’ favor. Led by Steven Wright and Wade LeBlanc — neither of whom made it past the fifth inning — the teams combined for 34 hits and four home runs, including two moonshots from Seattle’s Nelson Cruz and a five-run rally that gave Boston the edge in the seventh.

In the sixth inning, however, the Red Sox were still scrambling to make up a four-run deficit. Left fielder J.D. Martinez cut it in half with one swing, pouncing on an 89.5-mph fastball from Seattle right-hander Nick Vincent and posting it to dead center field for a two-run shot.

The 427-foot blast was Martinez’s 23rd of the season, tying Mike Trout for the most home runs in the league this year. While he still has a ways to go before eclipsing the career-best 45-HR mark he set in 2017, he’s off to a strong start this season: Entering Friday’s game, the 30-year-old slugger was batting .315/.386/.623 with a 1.009 OPS and AL-leading 55 RBI in 308 PA. He finished Friday’s game 4-for-5 with five RBI, just one triple shy of hitting for the cycle.

Heading into the All-Star Break, both Martinez and Trout still have some competition for the home run title. Jose Ramirez is sitting at 22 homers, while Nelson Cruz and Khris Davis are tied at 20 apiece.