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OC Register: Angels star Shohei Ohtani ready for next step in rehab


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TEMPE, Ariz. — Shohei Ohtani is ready to get on the field for batting practice, the next step in his rehab, but he is waiting for the Angels to give him the go-ahead.

“I feel like I’m ready,” Ohtani said through his interpreter Friday, his last day of spring training in Arizona.

Ohtani added that he has “no frustrations at all” with how conservatively the Angels have progressed him, “but I am eager to keep moving to the next step.”

Ohtani has been taking batting practice in the cage five times. He had been hitting soft toss and off a tee for several weeks previously. He also continued his three-times-a-week throwing schedule this week.

The Angels are targeting a May return for Ohtani as a designated hitter.

Ohtani also said he was thrilled to hear that Ichiro Suzuki referred to him in his retirement press conference, saying “Shohei needs to be the world’s greatest player.”

“Obviously it’s one of the most honoring things coming from someone like Ichiro,” Ohtani said. “I am thankful he went out of his way to mention my name in his retirement press conference.”

PITCHING PLANS

Matt Harvey and Tyler Skaggs, who each need to get to around 80 pitches in their final start of spring, will pitch in minor league games, so their workload can be controlled. Harvey will pitch in a minor league game Saturday and Skaggs will pitch Monday.

That leaves a bullpen game for Saturday’s Cactus League finale against the San Diego Padres in Peoria. Right-hander Jeremy Beasley will start. Beasley last week was named the inaugural winner of the Aaron Cox Award. Named for the Angels minor leaguer who died last year, the award honors a player for being the best teammate.

In the Freeway Series, the Angels will start Felix Peña on Sunday at Angel Stadium and Jaime Barría on Tuesday at Dodger Stadium. They will use relievers Monday.

ALSO

In his bullpen session Friday, JC Ramírez said he was throwing curveballs for the first time since Tommy John surgery last year. He expected to add sliders next week. Ramírez said all is going well with his rehab, and he’s still targeting an early June return. …

Keynan Middleton was set for his first bullpen session Friday since undergoing Tommy John surgery last year. Middleton is a couple months behind Ramírez, but he may not be that far behind him in returning because he is a reliever. …

Michael Hermosillo said he had a platelet-rich plasma injection Tuesday because of continued trouble with scar tissue after last year’s hernia surgery. Hermosillo is now targeting a return to regular games sometime in late April or early May. He will start the season on the major league injured list because he’s on the 40-man roster.

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33 minutes ago, Angel Oracle said:

Creating a best teammate award in Aaron Cox's name is a very nice tribute to Mike Trout's late brother-in-law.

After Skaggs, Harvey, Cahill, and Barria, does Felix Pena start the year as the 5th starter in Heaney's spot until he's ready to pitch?

I just heard Jose say the rotation order will be Cahill, Harvey, Pena, Skaggs and Barria at least for the first 5 games.

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