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Angels’ Shohei Ohtani has damaged UCL

MLB: Los Angeles Angels-Press Conference Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Newly signed Angels star Shohei Ohtani has suffered a first-degree sprain of his right ulnar collateral ligament, according to Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports.

The UCL injury to Ohtani, the 23-year-old Japanese two-way player who signed with the Angels on Saturday, was revealed during a report from a physical — obtained by Yahoo Sports — dated Nov. 28. The physical was performed by Dr. Masamitsu Tsuchiya at Doai Kinen Hospital in Tokyo.

The UCL is the main stabilizer in the elbow. Even though a first-degree sprain is the least severe when it comes to this injury, the possibility of Tommy John surgery could happen if more damage is done to the ligament.

Before the physical, Ohtani had received a platelet-rich plasma shot on Oct. 20 to try to treat the pain that comes with the injury. He also underwent surgery on his ankle during that same month. The shot and other injuries were disclosed in a report that all the teams received after Ohtani was put up for bid in Major League Baseball’s posting system by the Pacific League's Nippon Ham Fighters on Dec. 1. However, Ohtani is expected to be ready for spring training.

“Although partial damage of UCL in deep layer of his right UCL exists,” the report said, “ … he is able to continue full baseball participation with sufficient elbow care program.”

The Angels signed Ohtani for slightly more than $2.3 million and agreed to pay the Ham Fighters a $20 million posting fee in spite of this injury plus him having a hamstring injury last season and undergoing ankle surgery in October. Ohtani is regarded as the “Japanese Babe Ruth” because he can throw over 100 mph and can hit for both average and power.