Carlos Beltran nearly ready to begin running

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beltran sliding.JPGESPN New York’s Adam Rubin chatted Thursday with a “source with knowledge of [Carlos] Beltran’s progress” and learned that the Mets outfielder is just about to start a running program.

Once Beltran is able to run sprints and travel the bases without discomfort, it will only be a week or two before he is cleared to begin a minor league rehab assignment.  The 32-year-old underwent arthroscopic knee surgery on January 13 and is slowly making his way back to full strength.  He’s expected to rejoin the big league club sometime around mid-May.

Gary Matthews Jr. has been getting most of the looks in center field with Beltran out.  Angel Pagan is also expected to get a nice chunk of playing time.

Shohei Ohtani medically cleared to begin throwing progression

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The Angels released a medical update on P/DH Shohei Ohtani Thursday evening. Ohtani was reevaluated by Dr. Steve Yoon at the Kerlan Jobe Institute. The right-hander’s sprained UCL showed improved healing and, as a result, he has been cleared to begin a throwing progression.

Ohtani, 24, was diagnosed with a Grade 2 sprain of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow after his June 6 start against the Royals and hasn’t pitched since, though he has been in the lineup as a hitter since July 3. It was initially believed he would undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery. Then the thought was that Ohtani wouldn’t pitch again for the rest of the season, but this update suggests a possibility he could return to the mound before the season is over.

In nine starts, Ohtani put together a 3.10 ERA with a 61/20 K/BB ratio in 49 1/3 innings. As a hitter, he batted .283/.365/.522 with seven home runs and 22 RBI in 157 plate appearances.