The worst news now seems likely for Shohei Ohtani

Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani throws during the fifth inning of a baseball game against the Detroit Tigers Wednesday

Shohei Ohtani's rookie season is likely over, and he may not be able to return to Major League Baseball until 2020.

The Angels announced Friday they had placed the dual-threat rookie on the disabled list with a Grade 2 sprain of the ulnar collateral ligament sprain in his right arm.

Gomez also pointed out, the longer the Angels wait now to see if Ohtani absolutely needs the surgery, the longer his road to recovery will be.

ESPN's Pedro Gomez reported earlier Monday that the Angels were expecting Ohtani to need Tommy John surgery, which would keep him out until the 2020 season. "But they're at a point, really, with just four months left in the season, that it's okay to roll the dice and see if three weeks from now he's better because you're probably going to miss all of next season, regardless, should he have Tommy John surgery".

Ohtani, 23, has been diagnosed with a Grade 2 sprain to his UCL and underwent platelet-rich plasma and stem cell injections last week. The UCL injury was discovered during an MRI exam.

If Ohtani does have Tommy John, it's possible he could return as a hitter before he returns to the mound.

Angels General Manager Billy Eppler, however, denied Monday that the team has made a decision on Ohtani's treatment.

"We're hopeful that he can avoid Tommy John surgery", Eppler said. Ohtani's devastating split-finger fastball is a pitch that puts significant strain on the elbow. He has stuck out 61 batters in 49 1/3 innings. He's hitting.289 with six home runs and eight doubles in 34 games.

Eppler answered affirmatively when asked if Ohtani would be playing if he were only a hitter. "It was determined that any unique swing or variability (in Ohtani's elbow) could impose some small percentage increase in risk, so that's why we're going to give it the three-week time period right now to assess and then make a determination at that time".

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