Sawchik: Shohei Ohtani is and always was an extreme health risk

From Travis Sawchik at FanGraphs on December 14, 2017:

On Wednesday evening, Yahoo’s Jeff Passan revealed the results of a physical conducted by the Angels on new signing Shohei Ohtani. Most notable among the findings in that document: a strain of the ulnar collateral ligament in Ohtani’s pitching arm. Sports Illustrated had previously reported on the receipt by Ohtani of a platelet-rich plasma shot in October.

From Passan’s piece:

“Although partial damage of UCL in deep layer of his right UCL exists,” the report said, “ … he is able to continue full baseball participation with sufficient elbow care program.”


When reached late Tuesday, Angels general manager Billy Eppler told Yahoo Sports: “Shohei underwent a thorough physical with MRI scans to both his elbow and his shoulder. Those are scans we conduct whenever we sign a pitcher. Based on the readings of those MRIs, there are not signs of acute trauma in the elbow. It looks consistent with players his age. We are pleased with the results of the physical and we are very happy to have the player.”

While it is a Grade 1 strain, the mildest of tears, it’s still a weakness in the finicky ligament that so many pitchers have torn and required Tommy John surgery to repair. While some pitchers with mild strains have been able to pitch through the issue — like Masahiro Tanaka, for example — others have not.

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Originally published: December 15, 2017. Last Updated: December 15, 2017.