Angels manager praises ‘tough’ Ohtani

Los Angeles Angels manager Mike Scioscia hailed the resilience of Shohei Ohtani after the Japanese star blasted two home runs following news that he faces a lengthy injury layoff.

Two-way threat Ohtani smashed two homers as the Angels routed the Texas Rangers 9-3 on Wednesday.

The remarkable double-blast came just hours after the Angels had issued a statement revealing that Ohtani had been diagnosed with torn ligaments in his right elbow which would require “Tommy John” surgery.

Although the injury means Ohtani is unable to pitch, he was deemed fit enough to take his place in the Angels batting line-up.

The 24-year-old promptly belted his 17th and 18th home runs of the season as the Angels, who are out of playoff contention, cruised to victory.

“He’s a tough kid, not only physically, but mentally,” Angels boss Scioscia said after Wednesday’s performance.

“He understands the game, he understands the challenges. He knows he’s talented, and tonight, he was a hitter.

“He didn’t think about what the future is and the decisions he’s got to make for his elbow. He was out there playing baseball and hitting the ball, so it’s something I think he’s done his whole career when he’s pitched and he’s hit.”

The Angels earlier confirmed Ohtani, who only returned to pitching duties on Sunday after a three-month absence from the mound with an elbow injury, had suffered fresh damage to his ulnar collateral ligament (UCL).

UCL is a serious injury in baseball, and “Tommy John” surgery, named after the first pitcher to undergo the procedure, usually requires at least a year on the sidelines before a player can return.

Ohtani’s arrival in Major League Baseball this season has been one of the league’s most compelling storylines, with observers eager to see whether the pitching prowess and explosive presence at the plate that marked his career in Japan would translate to Major League Baseball.

An indifferent series of performances in spring training raised doubts about his readiness.

But he assuaged those concerns with a series of superb performances in the opening weeks of the season, hitting three home runs in his first three home games for the Angels.

Ohtani chose the Anaheim-based outfit despite overtures from several leading MLB franchises including the Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees and San Francisco Giants.

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