Shohei Ohtani of the Los Angeles Angels, shown makings a swing last season, hopes to hit off a tee next week in his comeback from off-season surgery / © GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/File
Los Angeles Angels pitching and batting threat Shohei Ohtani said Sunday he is making progress in recovering from arm surgery and hopeful of a May return to Major League Baseball.
The 24-year-old right-handed pitcher underwent tendon replacement surgery on October 1 and will be limited to a batting role in the upcoming major league campaign.
Ohtani, last year's American League Rookie of the Year, has only been able to practice swings since the operation but said he hopes to begin hitting off a tee in the next week.
"So far things are going as planned. No problems at all," Ohtani said through a translator according to a posting on the major league website.
"Maybe once I start throwing, maybe I'll start having some issues. But as of now, everything has been going well."
Ohtani, who was the first regular batter to handle pitching duties in the major leagues since Babe Ruth a century ago, said he is uncertain when he might resume a throwing program to start the long road back to his mound return.
Ohtani said he has been watching teammates take batting practice to help with his own timing, but isn't ready to get to the plate just yet.
"Probably by the end of spring training, I'll start picking up a ball, but for now, I'm focused on the hitting side," Ohtani said.
"I don't feel rushed or anything, but as a baseball player, I would like to make it on opening day (next month). That's the thought. But I'm not trying to rush myself."