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OC Register: Angels Shohei Ohtani cleared to hit off a machine, still on target for May return

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CHICAGO — Shohei Ohtani was cleared on Friday for a “baby step” in his progression toward a return to the Angels lineup: hitting off a pitching machine.

The pitching machine can simulate game-speed velocity, without the need for an actual pitcher. The next step for Ohtani will be facing live pitching.

Ohtani said earlier this week that he’s happy with his progress, and he feels ready to play right now, although he understands why the Angels are proceeding cautiously with him.

Manager Brad Ausmus said Friday morning that “nothing’s changed” in terms of the schedule for Ohtani. The Angels are planning on him being back in their lineup sometime in May, and they have not determined any more specific date.

Ausmus said there was nothing to a report out of Japan that Ohtani’s return was set for May 7.

“I don’t know where they’re getting that,” Ausmus said.

ALSO

The Angels recalled right-hander Jake Jewell to fill the roster spot vacated when Jaime Barría was optioned following Wednesday’s game. The Angels have been cycling relievers from Triple-A Salt Lake City in order to provide enough innings coverage in the bullpen. They are starting a stretch of 17 games without an off day, and the starters have not been pitching deep in games…

Taylor Ward made six errors at third base in spring training, then he made another error and had another catchable ground ball get past him for a hit on Wednesday. Ausmus said they are still confident in his ability to adjust. Ward was converted from catcher last spring. “Taylor’s very open about wanting to get better so he takes it as constructive criticism,” Ausmus said. “He’s only been doing this for a year at that position, so there’s going to be good days and there’s going to be bad days. He’s progressing and continuing to get better.”

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