Los Angeles Angels general manager Perry Minassian was expecting to be blamed for Shohei Ohtani’s injury. “Now I can go to Japan,” he joked after a press conference emphasizing that the club was not to blame, according to U.S. media reports.
Ohtani started the first game of a doubleheader against the Cincinnati Reds on April 24 (Japan time), but was pulled after just 1⅓ innings. He was found to have ligament damage in his right elbow and will miss the rest of the season. With the Angels likely to miss the postseason, the relationship between the organization and Ohtani has grown increasingly distant. Minasian caused a stir when he said, “Ohtani refused to take the test,” as if he was conscious of the attention he was getting for not preventing Ohtani’s injury.
Ohtani had previously been removed from the mound after four innings of a game against Seattle on April 4 due to finger cramps. He did not skip the rotation and pitched against San Francisco on the 10th. He then stopped throwing, citing arm fatigue, and returned on the 24th, only to have an accident.
Minasian explained the process on the 27th. According to Minasian, the Angels asked Ohtani to undergo a medical examination four days after the game, but the agency refused. Minasian said, “We asked for a checkup, but Ohtani and his agent refused. I understand. They may not have thought it was necessary with the degree of finger cramps,” he said. “It was the first time he had an MRI after the injury (on April 24). Earlier this year, Ohtani and his agent also refused.”
Ohtani’s refusal to undergo an MRI prior to the elbow injury could be construed as placing the blame on the player. Minasian seemed to recognize this, saying, “Me and Ohtani have been together for three years. We had three good seasons with him in our own way. I don’t have any regrets. It’s unfortunate, but injuries happen.”
What may have been seen as a transparent disclosure of information, could be seen as a “shirking of responsibility” depending on how you look at it. Fans realized that the club wanted the tests, but the player didn’t want them.
“Minasian didn’t lose his temper when he revealed that Ohtani and the agency had refused to allow him to be examined,” the Washington Post reported on Aug. 28. “But while Minasian may have wanted to scream behind that pleasant face, the purpose of the news conference was clear. The Angels said they didn’t hurt baseball’s most valuable star.”
“As the cameras rolled and the microphones were turned off, Minasian joked with a half-smile, ‘Now I can go to Japan,'” he added. The implication seems to be that he has no problem traveling to Japan since it’s not the club’s responsibility.
Japan’s Junichi Sports explained, “(Minassian) was aware that if he went to Japan, he would receive a cold shoulder.” The US media had a similar take. “A cornered Angels team is trying to deflect blame for Ohtani’s injury,” Fox Sports wrote.온라인바카
Even on the day of the injury, the Angels were unable to confirm Ohtani’s injury in time. Pitching and batting second in Game 1, Ohtani pitched a scoreless first inning with two strikeouts and homered in his next at-bat. It looked like the extra rest he’d gotten after skipping the rotation due to right arm fatigue was paying off, but in the second inning, Ohtani suddenly looked to the bench as if something was wrong. The Angels decided to make a pitching change.
Ohtani started the second game of the doubleheader as the designated hitter and did not leave the game. There was some speculation that the injury might be minor, but it wasn’t. It was serious. It was later revealed that he had suffered ligament damage in his right elbow. Ohtani would not pitch for the rest of the season and would only serve as a designated hitter. “It’s his decision to play or not to play,” Minasian said, reiterating that “we support him.”