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LA Angels: Shohei Ohtani throwing at 80-85 percent, recovering well

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ANAHEIM, CA - JULY 18: Shohei Ohtani #17 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim plays catch as part of his pitching rehab program prior to the MLB game between Los Angeles Angels and Houston Astros at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on July 18, 2019 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Masterpress/Getty Images)
ANAHEIM, CA - JULY 18: Shohei Ohtani #17 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim plays catch as part of his pitching rehab program prior to the MLB game between Los Angeles Angels and Houston Astros at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on July 18, 2019 in Anaheim, California. (Photo by Masterpress/Getty Images)
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LA Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani is throwing bullpen sessions and making good progress in his recovery from elbow surgery.

Los Angeles Angels starter Shohei Ohtani continues to make progress in his rehab from Tommy John surgery that kept him off the mound for the entire 2019 season, according to general manager Billy Eppler who provided an update on the two-star to MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM.

Ohtani is allowed to continue to use team facilities during his recovery process, despite the strict quarantine measures taken by MLB.

“He’s been able to throw bullpens. He’s thrown roughly two a week,” Eppler said. “Nothing super intense. More in the 35-pitch domain. Probably throwing at about 80-85 percent. But he’s going to see an uptick in frequency in those bullpens, I think, as we get into May.”

Eppler noted the team will need to get creative as he progresses toward live batting practice with shelter-at-home orders still in place.

The progress of Ohtani is about the only news coming out of Angels camp these days, as Major League Baseball remains shuddered due to the novel coronavirus. While there is optimism that a 2020 season will be played, there are still a lot of public health and logistical matters to get sorted out before anyone is playing in real games.

Ohtani is looking to return to his Ace-like form that fans got a glimpse of in 2018. Manager Joe Maddon could desperately use a bona-fide number one starter atop a rotation filled with promise, but also question marks.

Will Andrew Heaney take the next step in his career? He was named the team’s Opening Day starter before the season was delayed. What about Dylan Bundy? After a strong spring, is he ready to be a top-of-the-rotation guy? Who fills out the back of the starting staff?

With the 2020 season likely to be played over a compressed schedule, teams are expected to be given expanded roster options to manage pitcher workloads. Ohtani was originally scheduled to return to the rotation in mid-May, so as long as he can continue to make progress while under quarantine, theoretically, he will be ready to go once a season begins.

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The Angels intended to limit Ohtani’s starts to once per week, possibly on Wednesdays, to slowly work him back into a regular routine. I would imagine they follow a similar protocol whenever baseball returns.

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