Angels’ Shohei Ohtani faces live pitching, nears return

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              Los Angeles Angels' Shohei Ohtani, of Japan, smiles in the dugout before the team's baseball game against the Milwaukee Brewers, Wednesday, April 10, 2019, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
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ANAHEIM, Calif. (AP) — Shohei Ohtani has faced live pitching to begin the probable final step in the Los Angeles Angels slugger’s return from Tommy John surgery.

Ohtani made four plate appearances Wednesday in a simulated game at Angel Stadium, several hours before the Angels faced the Yankees.

The AL Rookie of the Year drew two walks and hit a line drive into the gap.

Ohtani is expected to face about a week of live pitching before he returns to the Angels’ lineup. He isn’t expected to have a minor league assignment.

The Angels have long projected that Ohtani would return as their designated hitter in early May.

Ohtani had Tommy John surgery Oct. 1. He won’t pitch again until 2020.