Shohei Ohtani cleared for full strength training, will not be ready for Opening Day

ShoTime will not begin March 28 on Opening Day.

Los Angeles Angels two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani will not be cleared to play at the start of the season, General Manager Billy Eppler announced Thursday.

Ohtani, the reigning AL Rookie of the Year, has been cleared to begin full strengthening procedures beginning Friday, but the current progression of his rehab will not allow him to be game-ready by late March.

“Anything beyond that, or a timeline beyond that, I cannot answer at this time,” Eppler said on a conference call. “It’s a multi-layered progression he has to go through and once he gets through step one then there’s step two then there’s step three… to pinpoint a time is unrealistic.”

Despite the news Ohtani will not be able to partake in game action by Opening Day, Eppler provided some news that is cause for excitement.

“Dr. [Neal] El Attrache is very pleased with Ohtani’s range of motion, his strength that he demonstrated as well as the scar mobility so he cleared Shohei to begin full strengthening,” Eppler said. “Prior to this appointment, Shohei had been doing lower body things and strengthening of his left side and now he’s been cleared to strengthen bilaterally with full volume.”

Ohtani had his appointment prior to attending the MLB Award show in New York City over the weekend.

Although he has been cleared to increase his strengthening, Eppler confirmed Ohtani is still not cleared to swing a bat. He stated “one of the things we are mindful of is not introducing two new things to him in one week.”

For example, because of Ohtani’s special case of both hitting and pitching, the Angels will have him hit off a tee one week and start throwing the next week, incrementally increasing his workload.

Ohtani will report to Spring Training before pitchers and catchers are slated to arrive in Tempe, Ariz. February 12 and will join that group in conditioning for as much as he has been cleared to participate in.

Ohtani does not have an official doctor appointment set for the future, but Eppler insists the Angel medical staff will be present throughout the entirety of Spring Training monitoring him so there is no need for a “set appointment.”

Eppler mentioned once Ohtani is recovered to a point of their liking, the team will consider multiple options for how to reintroducing him to game action– including a potential stint in the minor leagues.

Ohtani underwent Tommy John surgery October 1, 2018 and is not expected to pitch again until 2020.

During his dynamic rookie year, Ohtani batted .285 with 22 homers and 61 RBIs in just 367 plate appearances while going 4-2 with a 3.31 ERA and 63 strikeouts over 10 pitching starts.