The only thing Shohei Ohtani couldn’t do Wednesday night was pitch.
Ohtani homered twice during a huge night at the plate after getting bad news about his injured elbow, and the Los Angeles Angels cruised to a 9-3 victory over the Texas Rangers.
Perhaps headed for Tommy John surgery, the two-way rookie sensation went 4 for 4 with three RBIs, four runs and a stolen base to power the Angels. About two hours before the game, the team announced Ohtani has new damage in his right elbow and ligament-replacement surgery has been recommended.
“Obviously, disappointment in the news today,” manager Mike Scioscia said.
Scioscia wasn’t surprised that Ohtani could keep his composure, though.
“He’s mentally tough in any situation he’s ever in,” the manager added. “Tonight, he was a hitter. He didn’t think about what the future is and what the decision is he’s got to make for his elbow. He was out there playing baseball and hitting the ball.”
Ohtani didn’t speak with reporters after the announcement about his injury — or following the game.
“There’s more questions out there right now than answers. We’ll take it one step at a time,” Scioscia said before the game. “There’s a lot of consulting that Shohei will do with doctors and just see what the best course of action is, and we’ll see where we are.”
The club said the Japanese star had an MRI earlier in the day that revealed the problem in his ulnar collateral ligament.
Angels general manager Billy Eppler said Ohtani hasn’t formally decided to have Tommy John surgery. Eppler and Ohtani plan to have an in-depth conversation about his future Monday after the Angels return from their road trip.
“We committed to each other in this process, and we will get through it together as a team,” Eppler said. “But I do feel disappointment for the people in that clubhouse, and primarily Shohei.”
The latest development has been dreaded by the Angels and Ohtani’s many fans since he was diagnosed with a sprained UCL following a start June 6. After receiving a platelet-rich plasma injection and an injection of stem cells, he was hitting again in early July, and returned to the mound with his start Sunday at Houston.
Ohtani lasted only 2 1/3 innings in that outing against the Astros, and he had a drastic drop in velocity during the game. He had been scheduled to throw a light bullpen Wednesday, but never did after reporting his elbow was sore. The medical staff then decided he should get the new MRI in Texas.
Although Ohtani is enjoying success as the Angels’ designated hitter, Eppler flatly declared that the Angels still see Ohtani as a two-way player, however long they must wait for his pitching career to resume.
Last fall, Ohtani was diagnosed with a sprained elbow ligament while in Japan. Major League Baseball teams were advised of his condition before they could bid on his rights.
The Angels paid the $20 million posting fee to Ohtani’s previous club, the Nippon Ham Fighters. Ohtani, who is under the Angels’ contractual control for six years, signed a minor league deal and got $2,315,000 in international bonus money from the Angels.
In 10 starts on the mound, the right-hander was 4-2 with a 3.31 ERA this season. He struck out 63 with 22 walks in 51 2/3 innings.
Ohtani’s homers on Wednesday were both towering drives pulled into the right-field seats against right-handed relievers Austin Bibens-Dirkx and Eddie Butler. With his second two-homer game, Ohtani tied Kenji Johjima’s 2006 major league record of 18 homers in a season by a Japanese rookie.
Andrelton Simmons also homered for the Angels and drove in three runs.
Los Angeles rookie Jaime Barria (10-8) beat Texas for the third time and 45-year-old Bartolo Colon (7-12) for the second. Barria has not beaten any other team more than once but has a 0.86 ERA against the Rangers in 21 innings over four starts.
Barria allowed two hits and three walks while striking out five in five innings.
Angels: If not for the injury announcement about Ohtani, it would have been bigger news that CF Mike Trout wasn’t in the lineup a night after being hit on his right leg by a pitch. “His calf is tight,” Scioscia said. “I don’t think we need to push it tonight. We’ll give him (Wednesday) and (Thursday) to recover, and he’ll be ready to play.”
Rangers: OF Willie Calhoun was not available because of what manager Jeff Banister called “a little bit of a chest cold.”
Adrian Beltre hit a two-run shot for Texas, the 472nd homer of his career, in the sixth inning against Jim Johnson. Three of Beltre’s 10 homers this season have come in the last five games.
Angels: Resume their road trip Friday in Chicago. RHP Felix Pena (1-4, 4.19 ERA) will pitch for Los Angeles, and LHP Carlos Rodon (6-4, 2.89) for the White Sox.
Rangers: Play on Friday at Oakland, with RHP Yovani Gallardo (8-3, 5.97 ERA) opposing RHP Chris Bassitt (2-3, 3.19) of the A’s. Sixteen of Texas’ final 22 games will be on the road.