LA Angels: Shohei Ohtani increases velocity in live batting practice

Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images)
Shohei Ohtani, Los Angeles Angels (Photo by Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images) /

No need to fear Angels fans, it appears Shohei Ohtani is back to throwing hard after topping out at 97 MPH during live batting practice on Wednesday.

There was some overreaction last week during a 27-pitch bullpen session when Ohtani did not throw higher than 90 MPH. Now the right-hander is close to triple digits, and it shouldn’t be long before he gets there.

While pitching to Jared Walsh and Luis Rengifo, Ohtani’s pitches ranged from curveballs, sliders, and split-fingered fastballs. Ohtani also featured a changeup, a pitch he used while playing in Japan, but has not thrown in a game with the Angels.

Elbow pain shut down his pitching duties after two starts last summer, but Ohtani said he feels better than he did a season ago.

"“My elbow feels much better compared to last year,” Ohtani said. “I was mostly in the strike zone, there’s a little brushing up to be precise. For my first session, I was pretty happy with my fastball.”"

It remains unclear who the Angels rotation will consist of, but manager Joe Maddon has explained Ohtani will be ‘full-go’ as a two-way player this season. There will be no limitations for the 26-year old, but Maddon and his coaching staff will keep a close eye on Ohtani throughout camp.

In the second week of spring training, the Angels have seen positive signs from two-way star Shohei Ohtani.

I think it’s safe to say, barring any setbacks, Ohtani will find himself a member of the starting staff. I don’t think it will be every fifth day, but some form of a six-man rotation will be used before Ohtani is regularly starting. Using six starters will also help ease the rest of the rotation back into normality after last season’s 60-game sprint.

The live batting practice on the mound for Ohtani comes one day after he worked out as a hitter. He looked good in the batter’s box as well.

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You can’t help but feel excited about Ohtani’s potential when healthy. Players with his abilities don’t come around often.

Hopefully the Angels front office and ownership do everything to compete while he’s in his prime.