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OC Register: Angels want Shohei Ohtani to play rest of 2018 as DH, despite his uncertain future


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ANAHEIM — Shohei Ohtani was healthy enough to appear in five games last week as the Angels’ designated hitter. He went 9 for 19 with four home runs and 10 RBIs. Monday, he was named the American League Player of the Week.

For all the attention and analysis his skills have commanded on a baseball field, his decision-making has been scrutinized even more since he first declared his intention to leave Japan.

Ohtani still had not made a decision about whether he will undergo surgery on his right elbow when Angels manager Mike Scioscia made a bold proclamation Monday afternoon: that he would try to play Ohtani at designated hitter for the remainder of the 2018 season.

“We hope so,” Scioscia said.

Eighteen games remain in the Angels’ season. Ohtani was in the lineup Monday against the Texas Rangers, the opener of a three-game series.

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An MRI on Ohtani’s right elbow last Wednesday revealed new damage to his ulnar collateral ligament. Tommy John surgery was recommended. Ohtani was scheduled to meet with General Manager Billy Eppler and the Angels’ medical staff to formalize their course of action after batting practice Monday.

Historically, the ligament-replacement procedure carries a recovery period of up to 10 months for a non-pitcher. Since Ohtani is just 24 years old and hasn’t played a position besides pitcher or designated hitter as an Angel, precedent isn’t as helpful. It isn’t clear whether delaying his surgery would delay the start of Ohtani’s 2019 season as a hitter.

Ohtani would not be expected to return as a pitcher until some point in the 2020 season if he undergoes Tommy John surgery.

His ability to help the Angels this year is not in question. He’s 4-2 with a 3.31 earned-run average in 10 starts as a pitcher. He ended the week with a .291 batting average, 19 home runs and 53 RBIs as a hitter.

“If he continues to do what he’s doing, you’re looking at the Rookie of the Year,” Scioscia said. “It’s very clear.”

Ohtani has appeared in 86 games this season as a hitter and 10 as a pitcher. If he plays every game the rest of the way, Ohtani will have appeared in 114 games in some capacity, despite losing nearly a month of the season to recover from an injection of PRP and stem cells.


Albert Pujols will have a procedure to remove bone spurs from his right elbow Wednesday. Pujols was placed on the 60-day disabled list after undergoing an arthroscopic debridement of his left knee on Aug. 30, ending his season, so Wednesday’s procedure is not expected to affect his estimated return date. Pujols expects to be ready for spring training next year.

The 38-year-old slugger played 70 games at first base in 2018 despite the nagging injuries.

“If anything, you’re worried about the impact (playing first base) had on his knee,” Scioscia said. “Whatever discomfort he had in his elbow, he was fine throwing the ball. It’s good to get it taken care of.”


Tyler Skaggs is scheduled to throw his first simulated game Tuesday or Wednesday, Scioscia said. The left-hander re-injured his left adductor muscle in August and has been limited to throwing off a bullpen mound since then. … The Angels are expected to recall right-hander Parker Bridwell for Tuesday’s bullpen game. Bridwell last pitched June 5 for Triple-A Salt Lake. He subsequently had arthroscopic surgery to remove loose bodies from his right elbow and received a stem-cell injection to aid his healing. … Bridwell would become the 36th player on the Angels’ active roster. … Nick Tropeano (right shoulder inflammation) is running out of time to return to the Angels in 2018, and Scioscia conceded that the right-hander “is not close to returning.” A surgical remedy has neither been recommended nor ruled out, Scioscia said.


Angels (TBD) vs. Rangers (RHP Adrian Sampson, 0-0, 54.00 ERA), Tuesday, 7 p.m., Fox Sports West

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