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12:43 AM Fri, Nov. 16th

Ohtani cleared to begin hitting after elbow shows healing

MLB

In this Wednesday, May 30, 2018 file photo,Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani throws during the second inning of a baseball game against the Detroit Tigers in Detroit. Shohei Ohtani's elbow injury has healed enough that the Los Angeles Angels' two-way star can begin a hitting program. General manager Billy Eppler said Thursday, June 28, 2018 that Ohtani underwent an MRI in Los Angeles that showed improvement to his ligament, clearing him to take batting practice in private. (Carlos Osorio/AP, File)

In this Wednesday, May 30, 2018 file photo,Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani throws during the second inning of a baseball game against the Detroit Tigers in Detroit. Shohei Ohtani's elbow injury has healed enough that the Los Angeles Angels' two-way star can begin a hitting program. General manager Billy Eppler said Thursday, June 28, 2018 that Ohtani underwent an MRI in Los Angeles that showed improvement to his ligament, clearing him to take batting practice in private. (Carlos Osorio/AP, File)

LOS ANGELES — Shohei Ohtani’s elbow injury has healed enough that the Los Angeles Angels’ two-way star can begin a hitting program immediately.

General manager Billy Eppler said Thursday that Ohtani underwent an MRI in Los Angeles that showed improvement to his ulnar collateral ligament, clearing him to take batting practice in private.

“That’s news I was hoping to hear,” Eppler said on a conference call.

Ohtani was placed on the disabled list with a UCL sprain June 8. He will be re-evaluated by doctors in three weeks.

Asked whether Ohtani needs Tommy John surgery that could cause him to miss the rest of this season as well as all of the 2019 season, Eppler said, “No doctor has told me that Shohei needs surgical intervention at this time.”

Ohtani has a Grade 2 sprain, or partial tear, of the UCL in his right elbow. In hopes of avoiding Tommy John surgery, the Angels had Ohtani’s ligament injected with platelet-rich plasma and stem cells earlier this month. Eppler said he has not had additional injections.

Eppler said Ohtani will not play in rehab games but will take batting practice in a “private and controlled environment” and could face live pitching as soon as this weekend. Because Ohtani is not a position player, rehab games were deemed unnecessary.