The Los Angeles Angels knew Shohei Ohtani was recovering from a sprained elbow before they agreed to a minor league contract with the Japanese right-hander and outfielder.
“I think that’s passed him, and our understanding is there is no restrictions at all going into spring training, and he’ll get down there in plenty of time and be ready to go.”
-Angels manager Mike Scioscia
Ohtani agreed Friday to a minor league contract for a signing bonus of $2,315,000, according to details obtained by The Associated Press. That was the entire amount remaining in the Angels’ international bonus signing pool of $6.96 million for the signing period ending on June 15.
His bonus is due within 30 days of the agreement and is contingent upon Ohtani obtaining a U.S. work visa. Los Angeles also will pay a $20 million posting fee to the Nippon Ham Fighters of Japan’s Pacific League.
Major League Baseball teams were told during the posting process that Ohtani had a first-degree sprain — the mildest level — of his right ulnar collateral ligament and had a platelet-rich plasma injection on Oct. 20 from Dr. Masamitsu Tsuchiya in Tokyo, Yahoo reported Tuesday.
That is a minor sprain and there should be no problems as he should heal from now to Spring Training.
First degree is basically just a pull of the ligament, no tear.
Angels General Manager, Billy Eppler, had the following to say:
"He underwent a thorough physical with MRI scans to both his elbow and shoulder. Scans that we conduct whenever we sign a pitcher. Based on the readings of the MRIs, there are no signs of acute or new trauma in the elbow. His elbow looked consistent with pitchers at his age and usage level. We were pleased with the results of the physical and we are happy to have the player."
Scioscia anticipates Ohtani will have six pitching appearances in spring training.
Ohtani is expected to be part of a rotation that includes Garrett Richards, Matt Shoemaker, Tyler Skaggs and Andrew Heaney. They could go to a six-man rotation.
“It is certainly something to consider. As far as where major league baseball’s going with starting pitching, if it’s more functional to have a six-man. I think it totally depends on the makeup know of your team and your rotation. Some guys have proven that they’re not as functional with too much rest in major league baseball and some guys thrive on an extra day.”
The 23-year-old Ohtani, the Pacific League’s 2016, is likely to be a designated hitter much of the time when not pitching. Albert Pujols could shift to first on those days.
“I don’t think it’s going to be a challenge, I think it will be an opportunity to use some creativity. We’ll assess it and go into spring training and have an idea and make sure he’s ready in spring training with enough at-bats, and certainly pitch counts will be where it needs to be.”