Angels DH Shohei Ohtani will undergo surgery on his left knee Friday, per a statement from GM Billy Eppler (Twitter link). The procedure will focus on Ohtani’s bipartite patella, and it will keep him on the mend for roughly eight to 12 weeks.
On paper, this should leave Ohtani with plenty of time to be healthy and ready for spring training, although one potential wrinkle could be how this latest injury affects Ohtani’s ongoing recovery from Tommy John surgery. Ohtani underwent the elbow procedure last October and, by all accounts, has been progressing nicely, although this knee issue is certainly an unwelcome complication to the already unique situation facing Ohtani as a two-way player.
The TJ recovery kept Ohtani from making his 2019 debut until May 7, and he was limited strictly to designated hitter duty in his second big league season. While his numbers took a step back from his 2018 totals, Ohtani went from being elite in his rookie year to “merely” very good in 2019, cracking 18 homers and slashing .286/.343/.505 over 425 plate appearances. It works out to a solidly above-average 122 OPS+ and wRC+, with a .350 xwOBA that only slightly lags behind his .357 wOBA.
The drop-off in production could mark something of a sophomore slump as pitchers get more used to Ohtani, although it could also represent his extra challenges of both coming back from Tommy John surgery as a position player while still continuing to rehab his throwing arm for his expected return to the mound in 2020. Meanwhile, the Angels will be as cautious as possible in monitoring the phenom’s health throughout the offseason and spring training, considering Ohtani’s dual importance to both the Halos' lineup and rotation.
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