Shohei Ohtani Activated Off IL After Elbow Injury, Tommy John Surgery Recovery

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured ColumnistMay 7, 2019

TEMPE, AZ - MARCH 04:  Shohei Ohtani #17 of the Los Angeles Angels is seen during spring training on March 4, 2019 in Tempe, Arizona.  (Photo by Masterpress/Getty Images)
Masterpress/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Angels activated 2018 American League Rookie of the Year ahead of Tuesday's game against the Detroit Tigers.

Ohtani will bat third behind David Fletcher and Mike Trout against Detroit.

The Japanese star has yet to make his 2019 debut after undergoing Tommy John surgery in the offseason. Although the procedure rules out the opportunity for him to pitch for the time being, the 24-year-old will be available to serve as the designated hitter.

Even though the team can't utilize his two-way flexibility, Ohtani's return is desperately needed for a Los Angeles lineup that has generally been poor aside from Trout. According to FanGraphs, the Angels are 18th in weighted on-base average (.313) and 15th in weighted runs created plus (99).

Despite only making 367 plate appearances as a rookie, the 24-year-old was fourth among Angels position players in WAR (2.8) on FanGraphs. The left-handed hitter boasted a .285/.361/.564 slash line along with 22 home runs and 61 RBI.

Entering Tuesday, Los Angeles was 15-19, 5.5 games back of the American League West-leading Houston Astros and 3.5 games off the second wild-card berth. If Ohtani can deliver at the plate like he did in 2018, the Angels might be able to mount a wild-card challenge in the AL.

At the very least, his presence gives fans something else to get excited about along with Trout's quest for a third Most Valuable Player Award.

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