A new protective brace hugs the elbow of two-way player Shohei Ohtani, who had the ulnar collateral ligament in his right arm surgically repaired about 6 1/2 months ago.
The Angels’ Japanese star began wearing a new supportive device Saturday when he participated in baserunning drills during batting practice at Angel Stadium. Most Tommy John surgery patients wear such a brace to stabilize the elbow during the rehab process.
Whether Ohtani continues to wear the brace once he’s activated from the injured list will be determined later. The left-handed hitter will continue to wear his usual elbow guard in the batter’s box. But the team’s medical staff could decide Ohtani needs to switch to the new brace while he’s on the basepaths.
“It’s a very important right arm we’re trying to protect,” manager Brad Ausmus said.
Ohtani took batting practice on the field with his teammates for a second day in a row. He hit nine home runs against Ausmus, who was not originally scheduled to throw batting practice to Ohtani’s group.
One of Ohtani’s home runs landed in the center field berm, and the baseball’s momentum carried it uphill into the flowerbeds before rolling all the way back down.
The Angels bullpen carousel turned again Saturday, and off it stepped right-hander Luke Bard.
Bard gave up three earned runs in 5 2/3 innings with the Angels before being optioned to triple-A Salt Lake on April 10. He fared better at Salt Lake: He allowed only one hit in three innings. Fellow reliever Justin Anderson hasn’t had as much success since joining the triple-A roster April 10. He has allowed five earned runs in 3 2/3 innings. He did, however, strike out the four batters he faced in his most recent appearance.
Workload might have factored more heavily into the decision to recall Bard over Anderson, who gave up no runs and five hits in 5 2/3 innings in the major leagues earlier this month. Bard’s last appearance was Tuesday. Anderson threw 21 pitches in a game Friday night and 29 on Tuesday.
Left-hander Dillon Peters, who logged three innings over three outings after joining the Angels in Texas on Tuesday, was optioned back to the minor leagues to make room for Bard.
Left-handed starter Tyler Skaggs threw his first bullpen session since going on the injured list because of a left ankle sprain. He flashed a thumb’s up after returning from the dugout. He is eligible to be activated on Tuesday. … Right-hander Nick Tropeano, who has battled recurring bouts of shoulder inflammation since last May, threw four innings in an extended spring training game in Tempe, Ariz. on Saturday. The Angels haven’t yet determined if he’ll pitch out of the bullpen or slip into the rotation when he returns from the injured list … Left-hander Andrew Heaney is expected throw off the mound within the week. He has not done that since receiving a cortisone shot April 8 to relieve inflammation in his throwing elbow.