Ohtani finishes rehab, cleared for '20 return

December 20th, 2019

has completed his rehab from Tommy John surgery and has been cleared to return to Japan for rest before beginning to build up his arm for 2020, according to an ESPN report.

The 25-year-old two-way star served as the Angels' designated hitter in 2019 after undergoing the procedure on the ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching arm the prior October. He had begun throwing off a mound, but two months into that throwing program, he was shut down due to a knee condition.

Ohtani will likely pitch once a week rather than every five days after returning to the starting rotation, potentially on a pitch count for each start as he works his way back to full strength on the mound. Prior to the surgery, the right-hander made 10 starts in his rookie year, posting a 3.31 ERA over 51 2/3 innings and striking out 30 percent of the batters he faced.

Ohtani also hit .285/.361/.564 with 22 home runs in 367 plate appearances as a DH, winning the American League Rookie of the Year Award. Last season, he slashed .286/.343/.505 with 18 homers in 425 plate appearances. He will be in the middle of an Angels lineup that was recently bolstered by the signing of free-agent third baseman Anthony Rendon, and already featuring three-time AL MVP Mike Trout.

The Angels have also acquired two starting pitchers in recent days, trading for right-hander Dylan Bundy from the Orioles and agreeing to a one-year, $9 million contract with right-hander Julio Teheran on Thursday. Ohtani will rejoin a rotation featuring those two hurlers, along with Andrew Heaney, Griffin Canning and Patrick Sandoval.

The club may yet make further moves to continue an aggressive offseason, as it remains in need of a frontline starter and a starting catcher.