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OC Register: Angels’ Shohei Ohtani satisfied after throwing for the first time since surgery


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TEMPE, Ariz. — With a dozen cameras trained on him, Shohei Ohtani lightly tossed a baseball for 12 minutes Friday morning, the first time he’d done so since undergoing Tommy John surgery in October.

Although it was a significant step in his rehab as a two-way player, Ohtani shrugged off the accomplishment.

“It was very light,” he said through his interpreter. “The effort level was not there. It was something I was expecting. I was glad I was able to do it.”

Starting at a distance of 20 feet, Ohtani made 20 soft throws. He then gradually moved back to 40 feet. All told, he made 60 throws.

“I’m really relieved I was able to get through the 60 throws I had to go through at the distance I threw at,” Ohtani said. “In that sense, mentally I was very relieved. I just have to see tomorrow how my arm reacts.”

After Ohtani threw, he went into the cage and hit 15 balls off a tee and 25 tossed by a coach. It was a slight reduction in the volume of swings from before he was throwing.

Ohtani said he felt the same hitting after throwing as he’d felt on the days he didn’t throw.

His rehab is complicated by the fact that he’s mixing hitting and pitching. Even though Ohtani won’t be able to pitch this season, the rehab for his arm will nonetheless affect how quickly he can be in the Angels lineup as a hitter. He is projected to return by May.

“Both hitting- and pitching-wise, everything is going as scheduled, so I don’t feel rushed or pressured at all,” Ohtani said. “Everything is going smoothly.”

ALSO

Zack Cozart (calf strain) has improved “significantly” over the past few days, manager Brad Ausmus said. Cozart was expected to be out a few weeks after his injury was diagnosed. Although Cozart still may start the season on the disabled list, Ausmus said “he is definitely trending in the right direction.”…

Justin Upton (knee tendinitis) did some running on the field and continued to take batting practice. Upton still hasn’t done much in the way of outfield drills and still hasn’t hit against live pitching. He said again Friday morning that being ready for opening day “should be no problem at all.”…

Michael Hermosillo (hernia surgery) said the setbacks from scar tissue have been longer than expected, but he is still hoping to make it back into games soon. Hermosillo came into camp as one of the leading candidates to win the fourth outfield job, but the injury has left him little time to compete. “I’ll have a week or a week and a half to prove what I’ve worked on all offseason,” Hermosillo said.

JC Ramírez and Keynan Middleton, who both had Tommy John surgery last year, said all went well Thursday during their follow-up appointments with Dr. Neal ElAttrache. Ramírez is still throwing bullpen sessions, throwing fastballs and changeup. Middleton is playing long toss.

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