Shohei Ohtani Undergoes Successful Tommy John Surgery; Expected to DH in 2019

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistOctober 1, 2018

ANAHEIM, CA - JUNE 06:  Shohei Ohtani #17 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim pitches during the second inning of a game against the Kansas City Royals  at Angel Stadium on June 6, 2018 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images

Los Angeles Angels pitcher and designated hitter Shohei Ohtani underwent successful Tommy John surgery on Monday.

General manager Billy Eppler revealed as much, per Jeff Fletcher of the Los Angeles Daily News, and noted Ohtani will not pitch in 2019. Instead, he will only serve as a designated hitter, although it is not yet known when he will be available. 

The 24-year-old was initially put on the disabled list on June 8 and diagnosed with a Grade 2 sprain of his ulnar collateral ligament. He underwent "platelet-rich plasma and stem cell therapy," according to Yahoo Sports.

But Ohtani ultimately opted to have surgery after new damage to his ulnar collateral ligament was discovered.

"I think it was the proper decision Shohei made to have surgery, and the sooner the better," then-Angels manager Mike Scioscia said in late September, per ESPN.com.

"It obviously puts him out of pitching in 2019, but he'll be able to hit, and I think he's at peace with that," Scioscia added. "He wants to excel at both phases of the game. The fact he can't pitch (next season), there is a little bit of a void. But he'll be able to hit and focus on that."

Ohtani was arguably the team's best player outside of superstar Mike Trout in 2018. On the mound, he went 4-2 with a 3.31 ERA, 1.16 WHIP and 63 strikeouts in 10 starts and 51.2 innings. At the plate, he hit .285 with 22 homers, 61 RBI and 59 runs in 326 at-bats. 

The injury didn't appear to negatively affect Ohtani's impact at the plate, and his numbers there alone may be enough to earn him the American League Rookie of the Year award. But it was his ability to make a major impact as both a starting pitcher and hitter that made him one of the most unique talents in baseball.

Now, though, the pitching side of his overall game will be shelved for at least the 2019 season, a disappointment for both the Angels and MLB fans in general.

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