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Shohei Ohtani has new damage to UCL, Angels recommend Tommy John surgery

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Angels P/DH Shohei Ohtani recently returned to the mound, starting on Sunday  against the Astros. He lasted only 2 1/3 innings, yielding two runs on two hits and two walks with two strikeouts. Ohtani stayed in the mid- to high-90’s with his fastball velocity for the first two innings but was down in the low-90’s in the third inning before departing.

Ohtani underwent an MRI on Wednesday, which revealed new UCL damage. The Angels have recommended the right-hander undergo Tommy John surgery, as detailed in the club’s announcement.

Ohtani, 24, didn’t pitch between June 6 and September 2, but returned as a hitter on July 3. He was originally diagnosed with a Grade 2 sprain of the UCL in his right elbow. The thought was that he wouldn’t pitch again this season, but Ohtani progressed faster than anticipated. Given that the 67-72 Angels haven’t been seriously involved in either the AL West or Wild Card races, one has to wonder if the decision to have him return to the mound this season was misguided.

If Ohtani does go under the knife as expected, he will miss the entire 2019 season and almost certainly some of the 2020 season as well.

Ohtani has hit .276/.355/.547 with 16 home runs and 44 RBI in 274 plate appearances. As a pitcher, he went 4-2 with a 3.31 ERA and a 63/22 K/BB ratio in 51 2/3 innings. We truly haven’t seen a season like Ohtani’s — or a player like Ohtani — in a long time, so his performance this year has been truly remarkable.

Update: Per Jeff Fletcher of the Southern California News Group, Ohtani is in Wednesday’s lineup and he is expected to travel with the team to Chicago to close out a road trip against the White Sox this weekend. So he’s at least going to continue functioning as a DH until he decides what to do about his elbow.

Brewers have 3 positive COVID tests at alternate site

Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
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MILWAUKEE — The Brewers had two players and a staff member test positive for the coronavirus at their alternate training site in Appleton, Wisconsin.

Milwaukee president of baseball operations David Stearns confirmed the positive results Saturday and said they shouldn’t impact the major league team. Teams are using alternate training sites this season to keep reserve players sharp because the minor league season was canceled due to the pandemic.

Stearns said the positive tests came Monday and did not name the two players or the staff member. Players must give their permission for their names to be revealed after positive tests.

The entire camp was placed in quarantine.

“We have gone through contact tracing,” Stearns said. “We do not believe it will have any impact at all on our major league team. We’ve been fortunate to get through this season relatively unscathed in this area. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get all the way there at our alternate site.”

Milwaukee entered Saturday one game behind the Reds and Cardinals for second place in the NL Central, with the top two teams qualifying for the postseason.

The Brewers still will be able to take taxi squad players with them on the team’s trip to Cincinnati and St. Louis in the final week of the season. He said those players have had repeated negative tests and the team is “confident” there would be no possible spread of the virus.

“Because of the nature of who these individuals were, it’s really not going to affect the quarantine group at all,” Stearns said. “We’re very fortunate that the group of players who could potentially be on a postseason roster for us aren’t interacting all that much with the individuals that tested positive.”