Angels hopeful Shohei Ohtani returns during road trip


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MONTERREY, Mexico — Angels general manager Billy Eppler said Sunday that he’s hopeful Shohei Ohtani will make his return as a designated hitter some time during the club’s upcoming road trip through Detroit, Baltimore and Minnesota.
Ohtani, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery, participated in a simulated game again

MONTERREY, Mexico — Angels general manager Billy Eppler said Sunday that he’s hopeful Shohei Ohtani will make his return as a designated hitter some time during the club’s upcoming road trip through Detroit, Baltimore and Minnesota.

Ohtani, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery, participated in a simulated game again on Sunday and entered the day with 50 plate appearances against live pitching over the last 10 days. Ohtani is nearing a return — and there’s even a chance it could come as soon as Tuesday in Detroit — but Eppler said the club isn’t ready to announce anything.

“We hope to be able to activate him on this trip, but he has to get through every step of the progression, so we’re not going to say anything until the progression is finished,” Eppler said. “That’s just the mindful thing to do.”

The Angels had originally said they were targeting roughly 40 plate appearances for Ohtani before reinstating him from the injured list, but Eppler explained it was never a hard number. Eppler said most players get more than 40 plate appearances during Spring Training and the Halos are treating it similarly.

“Typically, we like to get guys around 50,” Eppler said. “So if you look through what Albert [Pujols] or Mike [Trout] or a lot of the regulars would get, it’s generally around 50. Justin Bour had mid-50s. Forty is a lower end of the norm for people. So 40 was not this goal, to get him to 40. It was to get him to the level that everyone else faces in Spring Training.”

Ohtani, the reigning American League Rookie of the Year Award winner, will return as the club’s regular designated hitter and will wear a brace over his right elbow when he’s on the bases. He practiced sliding a few days ago to get a better feel for what’ll it be like while wearing the elbow brace.

“He worked on some technique stuff to keep the arm a little bit out of the way,” Eppler said. “You have a lot of variability in plays in the game. There could be a throw to second base, there could be a relay home. You can’t predict how balls are going to come in, positions of fields, so on and so forth. We have talked to him about being mindful and we’ll be mindful.”

Calhoun, Goodwin enjoy atmosphere

Left fielder Brian Goodwin and right fielder Kole Calhoun both were impressed by the fans at the first game of the Mexico Series on Saturday night. Goodwin had prior experience playing in Mexico, as he played with Michael Hermosillo in the Mexican Winter League after the 2016 season.

“I played over here for winter ball a couple years back, and it’s cool that you get the real game [MLB] over here, because they have such love for baseball here,” Goodwin said. “The crowd is really into it and they love it. They love the game. To be able to bring the game over here is awesome.”

Calhoun said he believes it’s good for the game and that he’d definitely be open to returning to Monterrey for another Mexico Series.

“It’s definitely cool to be a part of,” Calhoun said. “Obviously, a lot of us, this is our first time playing internationally in the big leagues, and to come over here and bring MLB to Mexico, and just spread baseball around the world like they’re doing in Tokyo, London and here, it’s definitely pretty special. It’s fun to be part of.”

Allen likely to return Tuesday

Reliever Cody Allen is expected to be activated from the 10-day injured list on Tuesday, manager Brad Ausmus said. Allen, who is out with a back strain, threw a bullpen session without any issues on Saturday. He’ll have to work his way back to the closer role, as the Angels will continue to have a closer by committee until he returns to form.

Rhett Bollinger covers the Angels for MLB.com. He previously covered the Twins from 2011-18. Follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and Facebook.



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