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Ohtani pitches successful sim game

August 20, 2018

Shohei Ohtani took another significant step back toward returning to a Major League mound Monday by throwing a simulated game at the Angels' facility in Tempe, Ariz. The team told reporters that Ohtani's throwing session went smoothly.

Shohei Ohtani took another significant step back toward returning to a Major League mound Monday by throwing a simulated game at the Angels' facility in Tempe, Ariz. The team told reporters that Ohtani's throwing session went smoothly.

Ohtani has not pitched in a Major League game since June 6 and missed nearly a month of action after an MRI revealed a Grade 2 sprain in the ulnar collateral ligament (UCL) of his right pitching elbow. The Japanese phenom has been back in action as the Angels' designated hitter since he was cleared to hit at the beginning of July, but has only recently resumed his throwing program. The right-hander threw 20 fastballs during a light bullpen session Saturday, which marked the fourth throwing session of his rehabilitation.

But Monday's simulated game marked the first time Ohtani actually faced hitters in the batter's box, and MLB.com's Maria Guaradado reported that he threw to both right- and left-handed batters without issue. Ohtani showed plenty of progress as a pitcher before going down with the injury, recording a 3.10 ERA with 61 strikeouts over 49 1/3 innings. Now it remains to be seen whether his prized right elbow can once again withstand the exertion of competitive pitching without ultimately requiring Tommy John surgery that could sideline him for a much greater amount of time.

Matt Kelly is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @mattkellyMLB.