QUEENS — Los Angeles Angels general manager Perry Minasian isn’t quite sure what the course of action is for his generational star, Shohei Ohtani, after he tore his UCL earlier this week. But one thing is for certain.
“He’s going to play,” Minasian said outside the visitor’s clubhouse at Citi Field ahead of the series opener between the Mets and Angels on Friday night. “[We’re] going to come up with a plan but as we sit here today, he’s going to play.”
Ohtani and the Angels are still waiting for word on a second opinion on what the course of action will be for the superstar 29-year-old, who is still capable of swinging a bat — though he won’t pitch again this season as surgery is still an option.
Minasian still was unable to divulge whether or not the tear of Ohtani’s UCL was full or partial.
“Sorry I don’t have more for you guys,” he said as he retreated back into the Angels’ clubhouse.
While he wasn’t made available to speak to the media on Friday afternoon, Ohtani was in the Angels’ lineup batting second as the designated hitter. Per Minasian, that will be the plan “for the foreseeable future.”
“He’ll tell us each and every day,” he added.
There appears to be little concern about Ohtani playing with this injury. After he was pulled from his start on Wednesday against the Cincinnati Reds with the injury, he socked his league-leading 44th home run of the season.
“His hitting is fine,” Angels manager Phil Nevin said.
The decision to continue playing with the injury will undoubtedly be a hot topic for the remainder of the season. Ohtani is going to be the largest free agent to hit the open market in Major League Baseball history this winter and his value could have sustained a sizable hit with this injury.
One of the teams that has continuously been linked with him over the past two years is the Mets, though their pivot in organizational philosophy at the trade deadline has lengthened their odds of signing the Japanese product.
Rather than shut things down for the remainder of the season, Ohtani seems content on toughing it out as he has a realistic chance of snagging the American League Triple Crown with a .304 batting average, those 44 home runs, and 91 RBI. This was to go with a 10-5 record on the mound with a 3.14 ERA and 167 strikeouts in 132 innings pitched.
“He wants to be out here with his teammates, he wants to be out here in front of the fans,” Angels manager Phil Nevin said. “It’s a testament to him and who he is and what he’s meant not only to our clubhouse but to myself and to this game.”
As for the whispers that Ohtani’s days of being a pitcher could be limited or even numbered, fellow Angels All-Star Mike Trout, who went on the IL Wednesday for a hamate injury, tempered those talks.
“There’s no doubt in my mind,” Trout said on the prospects of Ohtani returning to his normal two-way self next season. “To go out there and play every single game… to pitch every five days, it’s tough on the body.”