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Ohtani cleared to start throwing progression

MLB.com @mattkellyMLB

The Angels announced Thursday that Shohei Ohtani has been medically cleared to begin a throwing progression after going through a scheduled evaluation with Dr. Steve Yoon at the Kerlan-Jobe Institute in Los Angeles.

Ohtani, 24, has not thrown a Major League pitch since June 6, when an MRI revealed a Grade 2 sprain in the ulnar collateral ligament of his pitching elbow. The right-hander received both a platelet-rich plasma (PRP) and stem cell injection at the time, and he spent nearly a month on the disabled list before returning in early July as the Angels' designated hitter.

The Angels announced Thursday that Shohei Ohtani has been medically cleared to begin a throwing progression after going through a scheduled evaluation with Dr. Steve Yoon at the Kerlan-Jobe Institute in Los Angeles.

Ohtani, 24, has not thrown a Major League pitch since June 6, when an MRI revealed a Grade 2 sprain in the ulnar collateral ligament of his pitching elbow. The right-hander received both a platelet-rich plasma (PRP) and stem cell injection at the time, and he spent nearly a month on the disabled list before returning in early July as the Angels' designated hitter.

The budding star has hit .250 and slugged .458 since his return, knocking a home run and a pair of doubles over 28 plate appearances. Ohtani is hitting .283 with an .887 OPS over the entirety of his rookie season.

Video: LAD@LAA: Ohtani's pinch-hit 108.8-mph, 443-foot homer

But the intrigue surrounding Ohtani has centered on his singular ability as a two-way player, and Thursday's announcement lends hope to fans clamoring for his return to a big league mound in 2018. Though a Grade 2 sprain has often directly led to season-ending Tommy John surgery for many pitchers, a select few -- including Ohtani's countryman Masahiro Tanaka -- have been able to pitch regularly with the injury without undergoing surgery.

Ohtani has often dazzled when he has been healthy enough to pitch, pairing a fastball that routinely touches triple digits with a hard slider and a nearly unhittable splitter. The phenom is 4-1 with a 3.10 ERA on the mound, striking out 61 batters over 49 1/3 innings and holding opponents to a .202 batting average.

Video: LAA@DET: Ohtani fans 5 over 5 innings of one-run ball

Ohtani was an early front-runner for the American League's Rookie of the Year Award as he attempted to become the first player since Babe Ruth to successfully pitch and hit on a regular basis. His club begins the second half a game over .500 at 49-48 and nine games back of the division-rival Mariners for the AL's second Wild Card spot.

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

Los Angeles Angels, Shohei Ohtani