The Angels' two-way star is getting closer and closer to a return to the mound. Kamil Krzaczynski-USA TODAY Sports

Angels two-way player Shohei Ohtani has progressed in his rehab to throwing off of flat ground, Angels GM Billy Eppler tells reporters, including Fabian Ardaya of the Athletic (Twitter link). This seems to be in line with the timeline laid out last month, where he was expected to be able to rejoin the rotation by mid-May. Ardaya says that Ohtani could try throwing off a mound again in a couple weeks, which would be early April. And given that mid-May is the earliest the season could start, it’s seeming likely that Ohtani could be ready to go by Opening Day, regardless of when it is.

Griffin Canning, on the other hand, seems to be behind his rotation mate in terms of his rehab timeline. Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports on Twitter that Eppler says Canning is still about a week away from throwing. Canning’s timeline after that is less clear. Unlike Ohtani, who is following a fairly well-understood rehab process to come back from Tommy John surgery, Canning is seemingly trying to avoid an extended absence. His initial diagnosis last month did involve “chronic changes” to his ulnar collateral ligament, but no tearing. Shortly after that, he received “biological injections” to treat his elbow. (Fletcher’s tweet refers to PRP, or a platelet-rich plasma injection.) Whether this path back to health will be effective remains to be seen, but next week’s throwing sessions will be the first step in ascertaining as much.

As recently laid out by Connor Byrne of MLBTR, the delayed start to the season could actually be a boon to the Angels precisely because it reduces the amount of time that the team would need to hobble along with a weakened rotation. It’s now possible that the rotation could consist of Ohtani and Canning, along with Andrew Heaney, Julio Teheran and Dylan Bundy. This would potentially bump Patrick Sandoval, Matt Andriese, Jaime Barria and Dillon Peters into the bullpen or depth positions in the minors.

This article first appeared on MLB Trade Rumors and was syndicated with permission.

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