Perry Minasian defends Angels' treatment of Shohei Ohtani, says he turned down imaging

Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani throws to the plate during the first inning.

Amid criticism over the Angels' handling of Shohei Ohtani's health, general manager Perry Minasian told reporters in New York on Saturday the team offered to conduct imaging after he experienced a finger cramp earlier this month, but the two-way star declined.

Ohtani went through imaging exams Wednesday after reporting discomfort in his throwing arm and it revealed a UCL tear.

Minasian suggested the Angels were proactive while trying to protect Ohtani's health, offering to do imaging exams after Ohtani reported a finger cramp on Aug. 3. Ohtani and his agency, CAA, were not worried the cramp was a symptom of a deeper problem and declined, Minasian explained.

“The only time we got imaging was after he felt the injury,” Minasian told reporters. “With that being said, the imaging was offered earlier in the year and him and his representation turned it down.

Read more: Hernández: Angels failed to stop Shohei Ohtani from a disastrous injury that alters his future

“And I understand why. It was a cramp in his finger and they didn't believe it warranted imaging. ... I have a finger cramp and you normally wouldn’t image a finger cramp.”

Minasian explained that the tear in Ohtani’s elbow is in a different place than the last time he tore his UCL in June 2018 — an injury that led to Tommy John surgery.

“The tear being in a different place, it’s different symptoms,” Minasian said. “So it didn’t feel like it did … when it happened in ‘18.

“We trust our players. Obviously this is an unfortunate incident and something that nobody wants to happen, but injuries are part of baseball, they’re going to happen. I know what’s been talked about and what’s been written over the past couple of days, but wanted to get that out there.”

Ohtani experienced cramping in his right middle finger against the Seattle Mariners at Angel Stadium and was removed as pitcher after four innings. He remained the designated hitter, mashing his 40th home run later in the game.

Read more: How much will Shohei Ohtani's injury cost him in free agency? 'He'll be fine.'

Minasian repeated that the tear in Ohtani’s UCL likely happened in Wednesday’s game and he did not think it dated to his finger cramp.

“I don’t believe so,” Minasian said. “From talking to the doctors and what we have, the information we have, that it happened that last game. With that being said, I don’t know.”

When asked why they offered Ohtani the option to do imaging after the finger cramp, Minasian said it was because he had experienced problems with a blister, cramps and dehydration this season.

“Just to be on the safe side,” Minasian said.

Asked about Ohtani’s arm in Texas, when he missed a start, Minasian reiterated: “Yeah, just tired. Dehydration was mentioned. Cramps were mentioned. So we decided to skip the start. … When he says 'I’m ready to go,' there’s nobody I believe more, let me put it that way.”

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Minasian said that the Angels typically offer imaging to players depending on the symptoms and part of the body impacted.

Minasian cited Mike Trout as an example, explaining the team offered to do imaging on the superstar's left hand prior to him returning to action Tuesday to give him peace of mind, which Trout accepted. Trout returned for just one game before returning to the injured list as he recovers from hamate fracture surgery.

Minasian also reaffirmed his trust in Ohtani and his agent, Nez Balelo.

“I have a great relationship with Nez and Sho and [interpreter Ippei Mizuhara] is part of that,” Minasian said. “The three years we’ve had together and worked together, they’ve been productive three years.”

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.