Los Angeles Angels two-way phenom Shohei Ohtani’s sophomore season is over. On Thursday, the Angels announced Ohtani will undergo a procedure on Friday to “address a bipartite patella” in his left knee. The club estimated his recovery will span 8-12 weeks, or into the winter.
The Angels hope Ohtani can get off the mound again in late November and conclude his 2019 throwing program the following month, at which point he will be shut down for the buildup to the 2020 season.
Angels general manager Billy Eppler said the team expects Ohtani to be ready to pitch at the start of spring training. Contributing as a designated hitter, which he will do on the days he does not start, is not a concern.
The Angels were considering delaying Ohtani’s surgery until he completed his post-surgery throwing progression, but decided otherwise after consulting with Drs. Neal ElAttrache and Brian Schulz, who will perform the surgery.
“We felt like it was better to get it done now because it was causing some reluctance or apprehension, whatever word you want to use, in his mound progressions, and we wanted to continue to increase intensity,” Eppler said on a conference call Thursday. “If we increased intensity and pushed on the intensity, and he compromised something in his delivery, that could lead to some unforeseen issues.”
Bipartite patella is caused by the two bones of the kneecap not fusing together at birth, an issue present in no more than 2% of the population. Ohtani had been asymptomatic throughout his professional career, but it “aggravated him a number of times throughout the season,” Eppler said.
Ohtani, who underwent Tommy John surgery shortly after the 2018 regular season, had been off a mound since late June and was throwing his fastball up into the mid-80s. The 25-year-old spent this season primarily as a designated hitter, finishing with a .286/.343/.505 slash line with 18 home runs in 425 plate appearances.