Brad Ausmus hopes to have Shohei Ohtani's bat back in Angels' lineup 'sometime in May'

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Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Los Angeles Angels manager Brad Ausmus declined to give an exact timetable for the return of two-way star Shohei Ohtani, but he did say Tuesday that Ohtani probably will be ready to bat in a game "sometime in May."

During his first meeting with the media at spring training, Ausmus said Ohtani has begun to take some dry swings in the batting cage as he works his way back following Tommy John surgery.

"I'm not going to put a date on it, but we're thinking sometime in May," Ausmus said of Ohtani's possible return date.

Ohtani was medically cleared last month to resume full strength training on his right arm following surgery Oct. 1, including beginning weight training, as the right-hander rebuilds strength on his right side. Ohtani is not expected to pitch again until 2020 and his unique status as a two-way player puts his recovery in uncharted waters.

"This is new territory. We're dealing with a guy who DH's on a regular basis and is a starting pitcher," Ausmus said. "It's new territory in rehabbing a Tommy John surgery, and we want to protect him long term being able to do both. If we have to push it back, we'll push it back."

But the American League Rookie of the Year officially will not be active when the Angels open the regular season in late March, general manager Billy Eppler said last month.

"He'll be doing what he's been medically cleared to do," Eppler said, adding that Ohtani will continue to participate in the Angels' spring training camp in Tempe, Arizona, but only in his current rehab program.

Ohtani is attempting to continue his hitting career while resting his pitching arm for the customary length of elbow ligament replacement rehabilitation.

During his dynamic rookie year in the majors, Ohtani batted .285 with 22 homers and 61 RBIs in just 367 plate appearances while going 4-2 with a 3.31 ERA and 63 strikeouts over 10 pitching starts.

In addition to Ohtani, the Angels are working 39-year-old first baseman Albert Pujols back into playing shape after he underwent left knee debridement on Aug. 29.

"Albert is doing everything right now," Ausmus said. "We'll have discussions with him on how he's feeling regularly."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.