Shohei Ohtani's first game action of 2019 will come in a Los Angeles Angels uniform.
Ohtani, who's closing in on a return as a designated hitter following offseason Tommy John surgery, won't require a minor-league rehab assignment before resuming his major-league career, Angels general manager Billy Eppler revealed Tuesday, according to Rhett Bollinger of MLB.com.
The two-way phenom doesn't need to go to the minors before returning to the Angels because he won't be playing any defense this season, Epler said. He'll also skip extended spring training, and instead continue to work with the big-league club.
Ohtani's rehab will consist entirely of simulated at-bats against what Eppler termed "professional pitchers," according to Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register.
Doctors examined Ohtani's ailing elbow Monday and gave him the green light to resume hitting against live pitching, manager Brad Ausmus said Monday, according to ESPN. He'll begin doing so in about a week and remains on track to debut in May, though he'd previously expressed hope of returning later this month. Ohtani won't be able to resume pitching until next season.