Angels about to find out what life is like without Ohtani (Jun 09, 2018)

June 9, 2018

The first two months of Shohei Ohtani went about as well as could be expected for the Japanese phenom.

He went 4-1 with a 3.10 ERA and 61 strikeouts through 49 1/3 innings of work and batted .289 with a .907 OPS and six home runs in his quest to become baseball's first modern day two-way player.

But the next month won't be nearly as enjoyable for Ohtani, who will be sidelined for at least three weeks after he was placed on the disabled list with a grade 2 sprain of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow.

Ohtani returned to Los Angeles Thursday and received platelet-rich plasma and stem-cell injections on the elbow. UCL injuries are often associated with Tommy John surgery, which would cost Ohtani at least a year but general manager Billy Eppler was optimistic that an operation wouldn't be necessary.

"This is completely treatable with the biologic prescription that the doctors recommended," Eppler said during a Friday conference call with reporters.

Ohtani was pulled early from his last start after developing a blister on his right middle finger but there was no mention of elbow discomfort.

If he were strictly an offensive player, the situation might be different and Ohtani could conceivably play out the season.

"That's not how we want to utilize him as a player and realize the impact of the player," manager Mike Scioscia said. "It was determined that any unique swing or variability could impose some small percentage increase in risk, so that's why we're going to give it the three weeks' time period right now to further assess and then make a determination at that time."

With Ohtani out, Scioscia plans to rotate players in and out of the designated hitter spot. Albert Pujols, Luis Valbuena and Jefry Marte will share time at first base, as will Jose Miguel Fernandez who the Angels called up from Triple-A Friday to replace Ohtani on the roster.

They also recalled infielder Nolan Fontana after placing Kaleb Cowart on the DL with a sprained ankle sustained when he slipped getting off the team bus. He was called up a day earlier to replace Andrelton Simmons, who sprained his ankle coming down the dugout steps.

"I think you know you're under a rain cloud when guys are getting hurt not in baseball activities," Scioscia said. "He was coming off the bus yesterday morning. He just missed a step and twisted his ankle. Freak injury."

The Angels will try to extend their winning streak to six games Saturday afternoon when left-hander Tyler Skaggs faces Twins right-hander Kyle Gibson at Target Field.

Skaggs threw six shutout innings against Texas in his last start and held Minnesota to just two runs over six innings back on May 11.

Gibson, meanwhile, has been snakebit this season. He owns a 3.54 ERA and has allowed more than three earned runs in three of his 12 starts but hasn't taken a victory since March 31 -- his first start of the season.

He held Cleveland to a pair of runs over 5 2/3 innings his last time out despite battling a bug.

"I didn't feel good while warming up," Gibson said. "My stomach was churning throughout the game but I just wanted to go out there, be a professional and do my job."

Gibson has made nine starts against the Angels, going 2-2 with a 5.05 ERA.

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