Mar 14, 2018; Goodyear, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Angels pitcher/designated hitter Shohei Ohtani against the Cleveland Indians during a Spring Training game at Goodyear Ballpark. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

According to a report from ESPN’s Pedro Gomez, Ohtani will “probably need Tommy John surgery” in the wake of his recent elbow injury. Ohtani was placed on the disabled list with a Grade 2 ulnar collateral ligament sprain last week. Here is a transcript of Gomez’s video report:

“The Angels are holding out hope that (Ohtani won’t need surgery), but everything I’m hearing is that the reality is he probably will need Tommy John surgery. They’re trying to hold out because they’re in the middle of a season, they’re kind of competitive right now, he is their best pitcher. But, it doesn’t look good at this point.”

Before the season it was revealed Ohtani had a Grade 1 UCL sprain. Now he has a Grade 2 sprain, which is more severe, and that is not good progression. The tear — a sprain is by definition a tear — is getting worse, and there’s nowhere else to go after this. A Grade 3 sprain is a complete ligament tear that requires Tommy John surgery.

When Ohtani was placed on the disabled list, the Angels said he received a platelet-rich plasma and stem cell injection in his elbow, so they are attempting to rehab the injury. He will be reevaluated after three weeks. Here’s what GM Billy Eppler told reporters, including the Associated Press, about Ohtani’s injury when he was placed on the disabled list:

“We’re hopeful that he can (avoid surgery),” general manager Billy Eppler said, “that this is completely treatable with the biologic prescription that the doctors recommend.”

A few hours after Gomez’s report made the rounds, Eppler told Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic that there has been no change in Ohtani’s prognosis. He remains on track with his treatment plan and will be reevaluated in a few weeks.

#Angels GM Billy Eppler: “There have been no changes in Ohtani’s diagnosis and neither our physicians nor medical staff have recommended (Tommy John surgery) or said it’s likely.” 

It is worth noting the Angels have had some success rehabbing UCL tears and avoiding Tommy John surgery. Garrett Richards rehabbed a partially torn UCL two years ago with a PRP and stem cell treatment similar to Ohtani’s. Also, New York Yankees righty Masahiro Tanaka was able to rehab a partial UCL tear back in 2014. Rehabbing a ligament tear is uncommon, but not unprecedented.

Shohei Ohtani is facing a potential Tommy John surgery. USATSI

Tommy John surgery has a very high success rate but it is not 100 percent, and any time there’s a chance a star pitcher won’t need his elbow cut open, they’ll attempt rehab. These days Tommy John surgery rehab takes 12-14 months, sometimes longer. And Ohtani is especially unique because he is a two-way player. Tommy John surgery rehab for position players is typically 6-8 months. Would he able to hit before being able to pitch?

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