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OC Register: Angels manager Brad Ausmus expects Shohei Ohtani to return in May


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TEMPE, Ariz. — The Angels had been saying for months that Shohei Ohtani would not be ready by opening day, but Brad Ausmus put Ohtani’s return in a more specific window on Tuesday.

“I’m not going to put a date on it, but we’re thinking May, sometime in May,” the Angels manager said. “That’s assuming everything goes well. This is new territory. We’re dealing with a guy who DH’s on a regular basis and is a starting pitcher. It’s new territory, rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. We want to protect him long term doing both. If we need to push it back, we’ll push it back.”

Speaking during a media session the day before the first official workout of the spring, Ausmus said that Ohtani has begun taking some swings without a ball. In that sense, he is somewhat ahead of schedule.

Ohtani, who underwent Tommy John surgery on Oct. 1, was only cleared to begin strength training his right arm on Feb. 1, and he was expected to spend at least two weeks doing that before he was cleared to swing.

Ohtani will then progress to hitting off a tee and then hitting balls flipped by a coach.

“There will be a process,” Ausmus said. “We don’t have a set timeline. We have a general idea. We’re going to wait and see how it goes.”

Ausmus said the Angels will likely need to slow down Ohtani.

“He’s going to want to get on the field quickly because he wants to compete, but we have to be smart about Shohei’s long-term career,” Ausmus said.

Ohtani is scheduled to speak to the media on Wednesday, following the first on-field workout for pitchers and catchers.

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