ST. PETERSBURG -- Shohei Ohtani is approaching the next milestone in his rehab, with the Angels’ two-way star potentially beginning to throw off the mound in early July.
“He’s getting close,” manager Brad Ausmus confirmed Thursday, prior to the Halos’ opener against the Rays at Tropicana Field. “I don’t know the exact date … but I would say weeks, assuming everything goes well.”
Ohtani underwent Tommy John surgery on his right elbow Oct. 1, 2018. He has balanced designated-hitter duties with his physical rehab, entering Thursday hitting .256 with seven homers and 23 RBIs in 30 games. He hit his eighth home run, a three-run shot, in the first inning of the opener vs. the Rays.
This week, Ohtani had a scheduled break from throwing. Will he be on the mound before the All-Star break?
“I don’t want to say it’s probable,” Ausmus said. “But it’s possible.”
More injury updates
• Outfielder Justin Upton (turf toe, left foot) was slated to play seven innings for Class A Advanced Inland Empire on Thursday. Ausmus said Upton will not join the team in St. Petersburg, but that the possibility of him rejoining the Halos in Toronto is “more possible.”
• Right-hander JC Ramirez (Tommy John surgery) threw 4 2/3 innings in a rehab assignment for Triple-A Salt Lake City on Wednesday, allowing four runs on six hits and two walks while fanning one. As the righty nears his return, the Angels must decide whether he’ll join the rotation or shift to the bullpen.
Ausmus said there is still plenty of time for discussion and that the team is solely focused on getting Ramirez back up to speed for now.
“We’re preparing him as a starter because we can work backward, but we don’t have to make that decision right now, because things can change,” Ausmus said.
• Right-hander Keynan Middleton (Tommy John surgery) threw off a mound Wednesday, but he has yet to face hitters.
• Shortstop Andrelton Simmons (left ankle sprain) will likely face pitching at the beginning of next week, and Ausmus said he will likely return before the end of the month.
• Right-hander Matt Harvey (upper back soreness) continues to physically rehab his injury (no baseball activity), which saw him experience a setback during Monday’s start for Triple-A Salt Lake.
Fletcher out for opener
David Fletcher was scratched from Thursday's lineup due to left shoulder soreness. Wilfredo Tovar took his place at shortstop and batted eighth, while Tommy La Stella moved up to hit leadoff.