Shohei Ohtani reportedly suffered damage to UCL

Baseball player Shohei Ohtani poses for photos after a news conference at Angel Stadium. (Jae C. Hong/AP)

Japanese baseball phenom Shohei Ohtani has reportedly suffered damage to the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, according to Yahoo Sports’ Jeff Passan.

Ohtani signed with the Los Angeles Angels on Friday after several dominant seasons playing in Japan.

The right-handed pitcher who is also expected to succeed as an MLB hitter suffered a first-degree sprain, according to Passan, who calls it “the least severe of UCL injuries, (though) further damage could lead to Tommy John surgery.”

The Angels paid a $20-million posting fee to Ohtani’s old club, the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters, in order to sign the 23-year-old.

Passan’s report mentions that Ohtani is “able to continue full baseball participation with sufficient elbow care program.” Angels GM Billy Eppler shed more light on the issue, saying there aren’t signs of acute trauma in the elbow.

“Shohei underwent a thorough physical with MRI scans to both his elbow and his shoulder,” Eppler told Passan. “Those are scans we conduct whenever we sign a pitcher. Based on the readings of those MRIs, there are not signs of acute trauma in the elbow. It looks consistent with players his age. We are pleased with the results of the physical and we are very happy to have the player.”