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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.

Corey Kluber removed from his rehab game

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Part of the reason the Cleveland Indians could trade away a pitcher like Trevor Bauer in the middle of a playoff race is because they have reinforcements on the way. The primary reinforcement is Corey Kluber, who has been out since May 1 with a broken arm. Based on what happened yesterday it’s possible that the Tribe will have to wait a bit longer for that particular reinforcement to arrive.

Kluber was the starter in yesterday’s game between Triple-A Columbus and Charlotte. He managed only one inning, however, walking two and not allowing a run before being lifted due to abdominal tightness. It was said that he was removed for precautionary reasons, so it may not be an injury as opposed to everyone simply being spooked. He’ll be reevaluated today.

It’s unclear whether this will delay his return to the Indians, though it obviously isn’t a good development. As it stood before yesterday, Cleveland had hoped Kluber could make big league starts in September and be ready for the postseason.