Shohei Ohtani will not go on a minor league rehabilitation assignment or participate in extended spring training games before he joins the Angels’ batting order for the first time this season.
General manager Billy Eppler said Tuesday that Ohtani will instead finish his rehab in California, getting at-bats against pitchers in simulated games. The Angels followed a similar approach last June when Ohtani was cleared to hit following a three-week break caused by elbow ligament damage. He needed only five days of hitting, in batting practice and against pitchers, before he was back in the Angels’ lineup.
It remains to be seen whether Ohtani would be ready to in such a short amount of time. He won’t face live pitching every day once he takes that step next week.
“We’re going to work it in a progression,” Eppler said. “It’s not just without any kind of parameters or restrictions.”
Ohtani is expected to be ready to come off the injured list in May. The two-way player, who had elbow ligament replacement surgery in October and is only hitting this season, said a few weeks ago that he could bat in a major league lineup this month if he were given the green light to do so.
“You’re the one tweeting it,” Eppler said when asked whether Ohtani could be available in April, “but I wouldn’t bank on that.”