Shohei Ohtani is officially back ... but only as a hitter for now

Yahoo Sports

An elbow injury won’t keep Shohei Ohtani from the baseball field. The Los Angeles Angels activated Ohtani from the disabled list Tuesday, but the move comes with one caveat: Ohtani will only be used as a hitter for now.

Shohei Ohtani won’t be a two-way player right now

Ohtani suffered a grade-2 UCL sprain in early June and was placed on the disabled list. The team planned to treat the injury with PRP injections and said Ohtani would be re-evaluated in a few weeks.

The initial evaluation cleared Ohtani to hit again, but not to pitch. Ohtani does not need surgery, but the team is still not sure if he can pitch in 2018. Ohtani will be evaluated again in a few weeks so the team can make that decision.

Shohei Ohtani is back in the Angels’ starting lineup

For now, he’ll just be utilized as a hitter. Ohtani is back in the Angels’ lineup Tuesday. He’ll hit sixth against the Seattle Mariners, and will take on Wade LeBlanc in his first game back. In 129 plate appearances, Ohtani has hit .289/.372/.535, with five home runs.

Ohtani will be tested as a hitter

By all accounts, Ohtani has exceeded expectations as a hitter. Many expressed doubt about his ability after Ohtani struggled during spring training, but he’s produced like a legitimate middle-of-the-order threat.

Now he’ll have the chance to prove that’s for real. This will be Ohtani’s first extended period as a hitter, which means he’ll be able to devote 100 percent of his efforts to hitting. It also means pitchers will get a much better handle on how to attack Ohtani at the plate.

The Angels need Ohtani right now

Since Ohtani hit the disabled list, the Angels have gone 7-14. The team has been hit by a ton of injuries, especially in the rotation. Shortly after Ohtani was placed on the DL, Garrett Richards went down with a hamstring issue. Alex Meyer, J.C. Ramirez, Nick Tropeano and Matt Shoemaker are also injured right now.

If the team is going to make the postseason, they might need to slug their way to the top. A healthy Ohtani would go a long way toward helping them get there.

Shohei Ohtani returned to the Angels lineup Tuesday, but he’ll only hit for now. (AP Photo)
Shohei Ohtani returned to the Angels lineup Tuesday, but he’ll only hit for now. (AP Photo)

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Chris Cwik is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at christophercwik@yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter! Follow @Chris_Cwik

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