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OC Register: Shohei Ohtani cleared to resume hitting for Angels


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BOSTON – Shohei Ohtani has been cleared to resume hitting workouts, paving the way for him to return to the Angels lineup as a hitter this season, while the Angels will continue to monitor the healing of his elbow to determine when he can pitch again.

Ohtani underwent an MRI and an evaluation on Thursday morning, three weeks after he had a platelet-rich plasma injection and stem-cell therapy to heal a grade 2 sprain of his ulnar collateral ligament.

The evaluation showed sufficient healing for him to begin hitting, general manager Billy Eppler said. Ohtani will be evaluated again in three weeks.

Eppler said Ohtani would immediately begin taking batting practice, which could accelerate to facing live pitching as soon as this weekend. Eppler did not provide a timeline as for how quickly Ohtani could return to the Angels’ lineup.

Eppler said Ohtani will not play in minor league rehab games. They will instead have him work his way back in simulated games or other controlled environments, which they can do because he doesn’t play in the field.

The news that he is on his way, at least as a hitter, was certainly good news for an Angels team wracked by injuries.

“Personally I was very pleased,” Eppler said. “You want to get as much of your 25-man roster that you break spring training with, you want to get as much of that back together as you can. He had been an important member of our club, on the mound and in the batters box. To hear that he can take the next step to rejoin our club as a hitter, that’s news I was hoping to hear.”

Eppler said he was assured by doctors that Ohtani is not putting his future as a pitcher at risk by hitting while waiting for continued healing of the ligament.

The Angels still are unsure if Ohtani will eventually require Tommy John surgery, but Eppler said so far the doctors have not recommended that.

“No doctor has told me that Shohei needs surgical intervention at this time,” Eppler said.

More to come on this story.

 

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