Angels optimistic about Ohtani's health

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Los Angeles (AFP)

The Los Angeles Angels say they are confident in the health of prized acquisition Shohei Ohtani, despite a report that he has ligament damage in his pitching elbow.

"Shohei underwent a thorough physical with MRI scans to both his elbow and his shoulder," Angels general manager Billy Eppler said in a statement after the story broke on Tuesday night.

"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."

Ohtani, a two-way talent whose 100 mph (160 km/h) fastball and explosive presence at the plate made him a target of myriad Major League Baseball clubs, opted for the Angels last week and agreed to a deal worth some $2.3 million.

The Angels will also pay a $20 million posting fee to the Nippon-Ham Fighters.

Eppler said the Angels, like the other Major League teams wooing him, were aware of the fact that Ohtani received a platelet-rich plasma injection in his right elbow in October.

Eppler called it a "preventative" measure taken by his Japanese club.

And Angels manager Mike Scioscia reiterated at the winter meetings in Florida on Wednesday that the team feels no cause for concern.

"Our understanding is there is no restrictions at all going into spring training," Scioscia said. "He'll get down there in plenty of time and be ready to go."