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OC Register: On the eve of Shohei Ohtani’s evaluation, Angels hoping for good news

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BOSTON — The day before the Angels are expected to get an update from doctors on Shohei Ohtani’s recovery, there was continued hope that he will be able to come back this year as a hitter.

General Manager Billy Eppler said on MLB Network Radio on Wednesday that Ohtani could be cleared to hit, as long as there is evidence that his sprained ulnar collateral ligament has healed enough so that hitting won’t create any long-term risk to pitching.

“If he was solely a DH, he would have been cleared right away,” Eppler said, “but because you are wanting that ligament to heal, to get that impact he brings on the mound, you want to – I don’t want to coin it the danger zone – but you want to get to the point where you are feeling that area has plenty of time to scar and heal. That’s what the three-week prescription is for, to buy you that time of scarring and healing.”

Three weeks ago, when the Angels announced that Ohtani had undergone stem-cell therapy and a platelet-rich plasma injection, Eppler said this injury wouldn’t have been an issue if he’d only been a hitter.

Since then, the Angels have allowed Ohtani to take one-handed swings and to stand in against a pitcher throwing a bullpen session, both steps aimed at keeping him fresh as a hitter.

Manager Mike Scioscia said Wednesday that they still aren’t sure what Thursday’s evaluation will show.

“Hopefully we’ll get some good news,” he said. “I do think he’ll swing the bat before he’s ready to pitch, but that’s just my feeling. We’ll wait for our medical staff to give us direction and determine what the next step is.”

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