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Ohtani takes another step in 'right direction'

Two-way Angels sensation throws simulated game Wednesday
Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani, of Japan, walks through the dugout prior to a baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks Tuesday, Aug. 21, 2018, in Phoenix. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin) (Ross D. Franklin/AP)
August 22, 2018

PHOENIX -- Shohei Ohtani took the latest in his series of positive steps toward returning to a Major League mound when he threw a 32-pitch simulated game at the Angels' Spring Training complex in Tempe, Ariz., on Wednesday."Shohei had a great workout day today," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Energy

PHOENIX -- Shohei Ohtani took the latest in his series of positive steps toward returning to a Major League mound when he threw a 32-pitch simulated game at the Angels' Spring Training complex in Tempe, Ariz., on Wednesday.
"Shohei had a great workout day today," Angels manager Mike Scioscia said. "Energy level was great. He felt good coming out of it. His post-workout tests were encouraging. It was definitely a step in the right direction."
After another bullpen session, Ohtani will throw 45-50 pitches on Monday and get up and down -- to simulate breaks between innings -- three times. The extra pitching work should not affect his ability to start at designated hitter for the Angels, Scioscia said.
Ohtani is 4-1 with a 3.10 ERA, and the Angels are 7-2 in his starts. Scioscia indicated Ohtani's return to the mound could be sooner rather than later.
"I don't believe we are going to wait for him to get stretched out to 100 pitches before he pitches in a Major League game," Scioscia said. "We're going to let this thing go organically. We're not going to look at a schedule and say he has to get here. It's going to be when he's ready."
That being said, the Angels want to see Ohtani pitch again this season, both for their peace of mind and his.
"You would never push him," Scioscia said. "You are not going to put a guy at risk, but there are definitely some big advantages to seeing where you are before the season ends. One of the black holes players have, and I've been hurt at the end of the year when I was playing, too, you never get a chance to set it. You never know where you are. You have to wait until Spring Training.
"When a player pitches and he has peace of mind that he is healthy, it gives him much more direction in the offseason with what he needs to do. There are definitely some positives to find out where Shohei is."

Jack Magruder is a contributor to MLB.com based in Phoenix.