Angels two-way player Shohei Ohtani will soon be medically cleared to begin his rehab as a pitcher, manager Brad Ausmus said Thursday at Tempe Diablo Stadium.
Ohtani has not thrown since he had elbow ligament replacement surgery on Oct. 1. He has spent the last month of spring training in Arizona focusing on hitting — that is all he will do for the Angels this season — and strengthening the right side of his body.
It usually takes pitchers four to six months after elbow reconstruction to begin a throwing program, but Ohtani was a special case. The Angels had to be cautious.
”I think it was always imminent,” Ausmus said. “It’s on the sooner side [now].”
The Angels were also conservative about Ohtani’s return as a hitter in the major leagues because the beginning of his rehab as a pitcher was going to complicate Ohtani’s schedule. They targeted May for Ohtani’s season debut as a result.
Given how quickly Ohtani was progressing on the hitting side — he went from taking swings without a ball to hitting one off a tee within the week, then moved on to hitting soft-tossed pitches seven days after that — it seemed realistic that he would begin to hit against live pitching sooner than later. The next step would be to hit pitches thrown by a coach.
Ausmus said Ohtani’s workload on offense will be scaled back — “The number of swings will decrease …” — when he is cleared to begin throwing.