Slugging ace pitcher Shohei Otani should be fit to pitch and hit without any restrictions in about three months, the Nippon Ham Fighters said Wednesday.
Otani is expected to move to the majors via the posting system following the end of Nippon Professional Baseball's season. The PL's MVP in 2016, when he was voted the circuit's top pitcher and its top designated hitter, Otani appeared in just 65 games this past season.
He is expected to spend two to three weeks of rehabilitation work in a hospital. After his discharge, he will shift his rehab to the Fighters' minor league facility in Kamagaya, Chiba Prefecture, just outside Tokyo.
Otani rolled his right ankle while running the bases in last October's Japan Series. He aggravated the injury while running the bases while playing for Japan in November internationals. At that time, a bone spur was detected and he reportedly declined surgery in order to be ready to play in March's World Baseball Classic.
Because of the injury, Otani was unable to pitch over the offseason and because his fitness was still in doubt in February, Otani was dropped from the WBC roster.
When the season began, he was playing regularly but prohibited by Fighters manager Hideki Kuriyama from running flat out or landing on a base with his right ankle.
On April 8, Otani injured a muscle in his left thigh while trying to beat out an infield single. That injury kept him out of the Fighters lineup for nearly three months.
At season's end he had pitched in just five games, although he finished his season with a complete game shutout. He batted .332 with eight home runs and 31 RBIs in 231 plate appearances and failed to steal a base for the first time in his five-year pro career.