ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA – Los Angeles Angels two-way player Shohei Ohtani made further progress in his recovery from a right elbow injury, throwing curveballs in a bullpen session on Saturday for the first time since undergoing Tommy John surgery last October.
“I felt good throwing. I think it will be a plus to throw without being nervous,” Ohtani said.
Ohtani mixed in around 10 curveballs during his 10th post-operative bullpen session as Angels manager Brad Ausmus looked on. His fastball clocked 85 mph (about 137 kph).
“He was throwing breaking balls extremely cautiously,” Ausmus said according to MLB.com. “It’s not like he was snapping off sliders. He was throwing nice and easy breaking balls. He did put a little effort into the fastball, which was good to see, but we still have a long way to go.”
The 25-year-old Japanese star said he has been shouldering some anxiety about making the leap to breaking balls in his goal to return to the mound next season.
“From now on I just need to increase my efforts to get rid of the anxiety,” Ohtani said. “I think I’ll be able to swing my arm better if I can get over that.”
Among other Japanese pitchers, Arizona Diamondbacks reliever Yoshihisa Hirano was put on the 10-day injured list with inflammation in his right elbow.
Hirano, who was placed on the injured list for the first time since his major league debut last season, said he had been feeling some discomfort over the last few games and felt tense with a limited range of motion.
He underwent an MRI on Saturday which revealed no structural abnormalities and said he hopes to “return as soon as possible.”
Over 46 innings in 55 games this season, Hirano is 4-5 with one save and a 4.89 ERA. He gave up five runs in his last two appearances, a quarter of his season total prior to Wednesday’s game against the Colorado Rockies.