Baseball / MLB

Shohei Ohtani’s return to mound progressing

AP, Kyodo

Shohei Ohtani moved another step closer to pitching again this season for the Los Angeles Angels when he threw a 33-pitch pregame bullpen session Monday.

It was the second pitching workout in three days for the right-hander, and his first time throwing to a catcher in a squat since his last game action on the mound June 6. Ohtani has been held back from pitching by a sprained right elbow, though the two-way rookie has been a regular in the Angels’ lineup at designated hitter.

“Everything went pretty well,” Ohtani said through a translator before a game against San Diego. “This was a very good step for me. I’m definitely moving forward. Hopefully I’ll be able to pitch again this season.”

He added: “At this stage, I don’t feel anything out of the ordinary. But I probably won’t know my physical condition for certain until I throw in a real game.

“There are still some pitches I can’t throw, of course, but what I threw felt fine and I built up a good rhythm. I think I can get back to enjoying baseball.”

Ohtani estimated he pitched at 70 percent effort. He threw all of his pitches except his split finger fastball.

“I just wanted to get the feel of the mound and the ball, throwing off the hill,” Ohtani said.

On Saturday in Oakland, Ohtani threw 23 pitches to a standing catcher in his first serious throwing session since receiving stem-cell and platelet-rich plasma injections to treat his sprained ulnar collateral ligament in June.