Though Tommy John surgery has been recommended for Ohtani's (right) pitching elbow, four independent doctors told Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports that the 24-year-old would still be able to hit on a full-time basis in 2019 even if he undergoes the procedure.
Ohtani certainly showed no signs of the damaged UCL tendon affecting him at the plate Wednesday against the Rangers, as the rookie slotted in at designated hitter and went 4-for-4 with a pair of home runs, a walk, a stolen base and four runs in the Angels' 9-3 triumph. Because Ohtani hits from the left side of the plate, doctors believe the biomechanical elements of his swing likely wouldn't harm a repaired ligament in his right elbow, thereby allowing him to regularly man the DH spot while he spends the next 12-plus months healing up from the surgery. According to one of the surgeons Passan interviewed, Ohtani would likely be unable to take batting practice until around the three-month mark in his recovery from any procedure while he waits for a process called ligamentization to take place, but that would still put him on track for spring training if he goes under the knife early in the offseason. The Angels will almost certainly field more medical opinions before deciding on the best course of action for their young phenom, but it appears there's optimism that Ohtani will be able to take the diamond in some capacity in 2019, though likely not as a two-way player.