Los Angeles Angels two-way star Shohei Ohtani had a great Thursday. For one, he became the first Japanese-born player to hit for the cycle in the major leagues. He accomplished the feat on the road against the Tampa Bay Rays as he homered in the first inning, doubled in the third, tripled in the fifth and singled in the seventh.
For another, Ohtani continues to progress in his rehab from Tommy John surgery, and he could throw from a mound before the All-Star break. "He's getting close," manager Brad Ausmus said before the game in St. Petersburg, Fla. "I don't know the exact date ... but I would say weeks, assuming everything goes well."
Ohtani underwent surgery on his right elbow Oct. 1, 2018. Back in the lineup as a designated hitter, Ohtani entered play Thursday with a .256 batting average, and the homer against the Rays was his eighth of the season. Ausmus said getting Ohtani on the mound prior to the All-Star break isn't probable, "but it's possible."
Ohtani, 24, was selected the American League Rookie of the Year in 2018. He went 4-2 with a 3.31 ERA in 10 starts on the mound, and he batted .285 with a .361 on-base percentage, a .564 slugging percentage, 22 homers and 61 RBIs in 326 at-bats. Ausmus added that outfielder Justin Upton (turf toe) could join the Angels in Toronto for a four-game series that starts Monday.
Upton has been on a rehab assignment, his first on-field baseball activity since March. He was hurt on the same day the Angels rolled out Mike Trout for a press conference announcing his $426.5 million, 12-year contract.
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