Carl Crawford plays in extended spring training game

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Carl Crawford took a big step in his recovery from wrist surgery and recent elbow problems, playing in an extended spring training game yesterday for the first time.

Crawford batted four times, felt healthy enough to attempt a stolen base, and manager Bobby Valentine told reporters that he “felt great after the game.”

However, he’s still several days away from being clear to throw and was limited to designated hitter duties yesterday. In other words, returning to game action is major progress but Crawford is still not close to actually coming off the disabled list.

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.