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MLB: Ohtani throws bullpen off mound for 1st time since surgery

Los Angeles Angels' Shohei Ohtani throws in the bullpen before a baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds in Anaheim, Calif., on June 26, 2019. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

ANAHEIM, California (Kyodo) -- Shohei Ohtani threw a light bullpen on Wednesday and said he felt good throwing off the mound for the first time since undergoing elbow surgery on his pitching arm last October.

"I felt like it had been a while. It felt good to throw," said Ohtani, who up to now had only been working from flat ground as he progresses through rehabilitation.

The Japanese two-way player, who went 4-2 with a 3.31 ERA on the mound last season, is not expected to pitch again until 2020.

Ohtani said he put about "50 percent" power into 21 pitches from the windup to a standing catcher, and 22 more to a catcher in a squat behind the plate. He is expected to throw another bullpen session on Saturday.

The 24-year-old, who bats left and pitches right, said he is not thinking about returning to the mound this year. Instead, he wants to put his efforts into being available as a starter for the Angels' rotation from the beginning of next season.

He also downplayed the significance of taking a major step in his recovery from Tommy John surgery, known to sideline pitchers for an entire season or longer.

"I think pitching in an actual game is still one (of the major turning points)," he said.

As he continues his other role as the Angels' designated hitter, Ohtani's challenge will be balancing regular batting duties with his throwing rehab program and getting in shape.

"It's been about a year and a half since I (pitched in a game) -- being a fielder as well, it's worth it to keep getting out there since the feeling of an actual game is different. That's the big thing," he said.

Later in the day, Ohtani went 3-for-3 with a stolen base and a run scored in the Angels' 5-1 win over the Cincinnati Reds. He said the bullpen helped him get back into the mindset of being a two-way player.

"The game and the result were both good and led to a win. I think my condition is improving little by little. I was able to prepare well before the game without making any changes (after throwing the bullpen). I'm going to be doing this kind of thing from now on so I want to get used to it."

In other major league action Wednesday, Yu Darvish ended his record-tying no-decision streak with a loss at Wrigley Field after allowing all five runs in the Chicago Cubs' 5-3 defeat to the Atlanta Braves.

Darvish (2-4) surrendered his first run on a wild pitch, and the others on a pair of home runs from Brian McCann and Nick Markakis. The Japanese starter got his first decision since April 27 after tying a major league record with 10 straight no-decisions.

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