baseball

Ohtani, facing Tommy John surgery, has big night at plate

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Per SBNation the Halos are no angels.

The Angels could have gone this route months ago when they originally shelved Ohtani as a pitcher and had him rehab his elbow rather than immediately opting for surgery. Instead, they brought him back as a batter and then as a pitcher, and his UCL deteriorated further and now needs surgery. Which they pretty much knew a few months back anyway.

So, instead of having him get surgery earlier and therefore allow him to start rehabbing earlier, the Angels instead went the wishful thinking route and hoped their newest star would imitate Masahiro Tanaka’s luck and not need surgery at all. Of course, Tanaka is currently the exception to “rehab over Tommy John” thinking rather than the rule, but it’s the Angels so they wanted to be naively optimistic. Even when it was clear ages ago they weren’t playing for anything this year and could pack it in for the season.

Either Ohtani was going to join Tanaka on the short list of pitchers able to completely avoid Tommy John after damaging their UCL in this way (unlikely) or he was going to hold on until next year’s Spring Training and then need surgery anyway (far more likely). So rather than allowing him to start rehabilitation earlier and possibly only miss 2019, the Angels waited based on the slimmest of chances that Ohtani would be one of the lucky ones and delayed the inevitable. Now, he’ll miss time in 2020 too.

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When did this 'new' damage show up ? And why is he still playing ? Tanaka isn't the only one, there have been a few pitchers that have managed to rehab a torn UCL....but they worked for organizations relied on opinions of the top orthopedists in the business – rather than what they were seeing on the field.

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I do not understand why people are puzzled over this, the type of forkball he throws is “famous” for putting a lot of stress on the elbow ligament. This forkball is very hard to hit, however almost no MLB players have thrown it due to the injury potential. Look it up.

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I haven't seen any hard statistics that pitchers throwing splitters are particularly prone to injury, although certainly there are a lot of teams and coaches that discourage, or even outlaw, it so the sample size would be biased towards those whose arms can already handle the pitch not those who gave up early because they couldn't. Hopefully given his age Ohtani has a number of good years left considering also the lack of good evidence for the myth that Japanese pitchers flame out earlier than “Non-NPB pitchers."

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I should add that although I doubt these pitches do more damage than a curve or slider if kids don't have the mechanics down like putting too much twist on the ball combined with other poor training techniques it may have a lasting impact on a developing arm. Not being a pitching coach, never mind a Japanese one, it is difficult to say what happened in this particular case.

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If the surgery is only necessary to improve his pitching, why not convert Ohtani to another position such as first base? As a hitter, and as a batter who hits homers all the time, his bat at the plate is more valuable than his arm as a pitcher. Not to mention his speed and base stealing abilities and his overall instincts for the game.

There is also the possibility that surgery might do more harm than good, so why not move him to another position to keep Ohtani's bat active?

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He would most likely move to right field replacing the injured and soon to be gone Kole Calhoun.

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