Shohei Ohtani returned to Tokyo on Tuesday a member of the Los Angeles Angels, having made his career-changing team choice this past weekend.
The pitcher-slugger, who joined the Angels via the posting system, did not stop to speak to reporters at Haneda airport and headed straight to the Hokkaido Nippon Ham Fighters’ facility in Kamagaya, Chiba Prefecture.
The 23-year-old will continue to rehab from ankle surgery he underwent in October while preparing for spring training, which starts in February in Tempe, Arizona.
After playing light catch and doing sprint drills on Tuesday, Ohtani hit from a pitching machine for the first time since he had surgery and proved that he is well on track to recovery.
“I want to be in perfect shape (by spring training). I slept through my flight so I feel rested,” Ohtani said.
“They let me have surgery quickly. I’ve been thinking ahead so I can be in 100 percent condition when I start next year. So far so good.”
According to Angels general manager Billy Eppler, pitchers and catchers will report to camp on Feb. 13 and begin training the following day, while the reporting date for position players is Feb. 19.
The 42-year-old GM also said he does not see any reason why Ohtani should not be on the same pitching workout program as his teammates and expects him to fly to Arizona few days before Feb. 13.
The Angeles play their first preseason game against the Oakland Athletics on Feb. 23.
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