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OC Register: Angels manager Brad Ausmus has been getting close to the action to see his pitchers


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TEMPE, Ariz. >> Brad Ausmus has been getting an up close look at some of the Angels pitchers this spring.

A 49-year-old former catcher, Ausmus has put on the gear and gotten behind the plate to catch bullpen sessions for a few of his pitchers this spring, which he said is normal for him.

“That’s just my frame of reference,” the Angels manager said. “As a catcher for so long, I have a better idea from that angle of what pitches should look like. It’s just easier for me.”

Tyler Skaggs, who threw to Ausmus on Tuesday, said it was only awkward for the first four or five pitches.

“It was interesting,” Skaggs said. “We had a good time. He’s definitely got a different style of catching. He’s a little more old school.”

Ausmus last caught in the majors in 2010. He said he caught bullpen sessions during his time managing the Detroit Tigers, from 2014 to 2017 also.

Ausmus also caught Trevor Cahill and Matt Harvey during bullpen sessions just before the official start of spring training.

Cahill said it was “kind of cool” to have his manager behind the plate.

“I’ve had pitching coaches stand in, but I’ve never had one catch me,” Cahill said. “As a former player, I’m sure he gets the urge to get back there and get some baseball activity. He looks like he’s in pretty good shape and can handle it.”

Skaggs said he appreciates the involvement of his manager.

“It’s pretty cool,” he said. “It’s nice to get some feedback and have him see what I’m working with.”

Having his manager behind the plate is one of the many changes Skaggs and the other veteran Angels players have adjusted to in the first year without Mike Scioscia as the manager.

“It’s been very different,” Skaggs said. “The routine is different. Everything I’m used to is changed. I’m used to the same old meetings and same sayings. It’s definitely different.”

OHTANI UPDATE

Shohei Ohtani is “very close” to being ready to hit soft toss, Ausmus said on Thursday morning. Ohtani, who is rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, is not projected to be in the Angels lineup until May, although at the rate he’s progressing he could be ready earlier.

Ohtani has been hitting off a tee since Friday, and he’s increased to about 40 to 45 swings. He said he’s been swinging at 100 percent.

After he hits soft toss, he will move to taking batting practice off a coach in the cage, and then on the field. Then he’ll face live pitching.

“Going from tee to soft toss isn’t a huge jump, but going from cage to BP on the field is a bigger jump,” Ausmus said. “BP to live arms is a bigger jump. These jumps are small, but the last couple hurdles are bigger.”

ALSO

Justin Upton (knee tendinitis) was scheduled to take batting practice on the field on Thursday morning. There is no timetable for Upton to play in his first Cactus League game, but he’s expected to be ready by opening day…

Justin Bour (hamstring) is scheduled to get into his first Cactus League game sometime this weekend.

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