shohei-ohtani-pitch Apr 1, 2018; Oakland, CA, USA; Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani (17) pitches the ball against the Oakland Athletics during the second inning at Oakland Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

There’s some bad news for Los Angeles Angels’ star Shohei Ohtani. The team announced Wednesday that a MRI has confirmed new damage to Ohtani’s ulnar collateral ligament (UCL), and that the recommended treatment is “UCL reconstruction surgery,” or the famed Tommy John procedure:

This is notable because Ohtani pitched for the first time Sunday since undergoing a “UCL sprain” in June, which led to reports that he would likely undergo Tommy John surgery and be out until 2020. Instead, the Angels decided to bring him back and let him pitch. And his two-and-a-third inning appearance Sunday against the Houston Astros saw him throw 49 pitches with two strikeouts and two walks, but also saw his velocity drop from 96-99 miles per hour in the first two innings to 89-92 miles per hour in the third. Afterwards, though, manager Mike Scoscia said that wasn’t about further elbow problems:

After the game, Angels manager Mike Scioscia said the ailing elbow that led to Ohtani’s pitching absence held up just fine, but a stiff back and a finger injured while attempting to field a comebacker led to Ohtani’s loss in velocity.

A day later, Scioscia reiterated that Ohtani’s elbow “feels great.”

Yeah, not so much. And that raises big questions about why the Angels decided to bring him back after the first injury instead of just shutting him down for surgery. But he had found remarkable success this year, and it is notable that he’ll still be playing, only as just a hitter until surgery:

Meanwhile, many blasted the Angels for having Ohtani pitch again after that sprain, and The Onion had a particularly devastating take on the team (currently 67-72, and a ways outside of playoff contention):

It’s certainly unfortunate that this has happened to Ohtani, who’s given us a ton of highlights both on the mound and at the plate this season. If he does have to undergo surgery, hopefully that will go well, and hopefully he’ll be back to top form eventually.

About Andrew Bucholtz

Andrew Bucholtz has been covering sports media for Awful Announcing since 2012. He is also a staff writer for The Comeback. His previous work includes time at Yahoo! Sports Canada and Black Press.