Ohtani plans to face hitters in next rehab step

August 18th, 2018

ARLINGTON -- braved the 100-degree heat at Globe Life Park and threw 20 fastballs during a light bullpen session Saturday. It marked his fourth throwing session off the mound in his rehab from a sprained ligament in his right elbow.

"It was just a lighter one," Ohtani said through interpreter Ippei Mizuhara. "I just wanted to check my form and my timing."

Manager Mike Scioscia said the next step for Ohtani will likely be to face hitters in Arizona next week. Since the Angels will be in Phoenix for a two-game Interleague series against the D-backs, Ohtani is expected to complete the throwing session at the club's training complex in Tempe.

"I know his workout in Arizona will be probably be more aggressive than today," Scioscia said. "He'll do what he needs to do in his 'pen [session]."

Ohtani has not pitched for the Angels since June 6 because of a Grade 2 sprain of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow, but his progress so far has stoked optimism within the organization that he'll be able to return to the mound before the end of the season. Prior to the injury, Ohtani logged a 3.10 ERA with 61 strikeouts over 49 1/3 innings.

Since returning from the disabled list on July 3, Ohtani has been used exclusively as a hitter. He is batting .264 with an .848 OPS, 12 home runs and six stolen bases in 69 games. He was not in the Angels' starting lineup Saturday against Rangers left-hander .

The left-handed-hitting Ohtani is batting only .169 with a .506 OPS against lefties this season, compared to .299 with a .977 OPS against righties.

Trout update

The Angels aren't expecting to rejoin the club until they return to Southern California for their next homestand. Trout has been in New Jersey mourning the loss of his brother-in-law, Aaron Cox, a former Minor League pitcher for the Angels who passed away on Wednesday.

Worth noting

Right-hander , who was designated for assignment on Wednesday, cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A Salt Lake.