Shohei Ohtani activated from injured list


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DETROIT — Shohei Ohtani is back.
The Angels reinstated Ohtani from the injured list on Tuesday, more than seven months after the two-way phenom underwent surgery to repair the ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow.
Penciled in to bat third behind Mike Trout and serve as the designated hitter

DETROIT — Shohei Ohtani is back.

The Angels reinstated Ohtani from the injured list on Tuesday, more than seven months after the two-way phenom underwent surgery to repair the ulnar collateral ligament in his pitching elbow.

Penciled in to bat third behind Mike Trout and serve as the designated hitter for the Angels’ series opener against the Tigers, Ohtani joined the team earlier in the day and, upon being evaluated, received final clearance from team officials.

“We’re just thankful to finally get to this stage, because it was a long progression,” Angels general manager Billy Eppler said. “I’m glad to see him get through it, but I’m not surprised. He’s a guy that accomplishes a lot of goals, but I’m very, very thankful to get him back.”

Ohtani, who throws right-handed and bats left-handed, remains on target to return to the mound next season, but his return to the lineup gives the Angels an impact power bat to slot near the top of their order on a more regular basis.

“He injects offense, that’s for sure,” Angels manager Brad Ausmus said. “He’s got big power.”

Ohtani figures to help boost an offense that is seemingly desperate for protection behind Trout, who led the Majors with 31 walks entering Tuesday.

“We’re just adding a middle-of-the-order bat, and when you can add that, it’s going to help everyone throughout the lineup,” Eppler said.

Moving forward, Ohtani is expected to face both right- and left-handed pitchers and will likely be penciled in the No. 3 spot on a regular basis, according to Ausmus.

Eppler alluded to an everyday role at DH that could eventually move Albert Pujols and Justin Bour into a platoon-type role at first base.

“[Pujols] has been, to nobody’s surprise, a consummate professional and said he’ll do whatever he can to help the club win,” Eppler said. “When you have some talented players and you have an opportunity to rotate them around a little bit, I think that’s actually a good thing for the longevity of the season.”

Ohtani has missed more than a month of the season while rehabbing from his October Tommy John surgery. He began taking batting practice in mid-April and has accrued more than 50 plate appearances against Minor League pitchers in simulated games over the past few weeks.

Given the unprecedented path to recovery that Ohtani continues to face as a two-way player, the Angels have previously shied away from announcing whether the Japanese star will see fewer at-bats as he progresses deeper into his pitching program. But Eppler said Tuesday that Ohtani won’t be at the point in his throwing rehab where it would start to require him to miss hitting days until September or October.

As part of his rehab as a pitcher, Ohtani is currently throwing three days a week off flat ground.

“He still has other layers that he has to get through here in the next six or seven months so that he can show up in next year’s Spring Training and be a fully abled player without restriction,” Eppler said. “We’re not all the way to that goal yet, but we are at the point of him being able to step in the batter’s box.”

As a hitter, Ohtani will wear a brace over his right elbow when he’s on the basepaths. Eppler told reporters on Sunday that Ohtani practiced sliding last week to get a better feel for the elbow brace and to prevent putting his arm at risk.

“It’s too restrictive right now, for hitting,” Eppler said. “It’s a little hard to maneuver it while hitting.”

Last year, Ohtani batted .285 with 22 homers, 61 RBIs and a .925 OPS spanning 367 plate appearances en route to being named the 2018 American League Rookie of the Year. On the mound, Ohtani was 4-2 with a 3.31 ERA and 63 strikeouts over 10 starts.

In corresponding moves, the Angels also reinstated closer Cody Allen and infielder Zack Cozart from the injured list, while designating both outfielder Peter Bourjos and right-hander Chris Stratton for assignment. Infielder Luis Rengifo was optioned to Triple-A Salt Lake.

When a player’s contract is designated for assignment — often abbreviated “DFA” — that player is immediately removed from his club’s 40-man roster, and 25-man roster if he was on that as well. Within seven days of the transaction (it was previously 10 days), the player must either be traded, released or placed on irrevocable outright waivers.



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