Angels pitcher Nick Tropeano, in return from Tommy John surgery, starts Friday

Angels pitcher Nick Tropeano, in return from Tommy John surgery, starts Friday

TEMPE, Ariz. — Nick Tropeano’s start in the Angels’ Cactus League opener will mean a little more than the average spring training outing.

It will marking Tropeano’s first appearance in a major league setting since he underwent Tommy John surgery in 2016.

Although Tropeano pitched in an instructional league last fall, facing minor leaguers on back fields with fans numbering in the dozens is not the same as facing the Oakland A’s at Hohokam Stadium.

“I have been looking forward to this day, working for this day, ever since the injury,” he said. “There will be some nerves obviously, even for a spring training game.”

Tropeano said “results will be a bonus, if they are good,” but the Angels will certainly be evaluating his performance, beyond his health. Tropeano is one of nine starting pitchers in camp who could be a part of the 2018 rotation at some point.

At it stands now, Tropeano would appear to be in the mix with Parker Bridwell, who will also pitch Friday, and JC Ramirez for the sixth spot in the rotation. Tropeano and Bridwell both have options, so at worst both could be stashed in Triple-A and called up later, if the need arises.

Tropeano, 27, was enjoying a breakthrough season when he got hurt in 2016. He had a 3.56 ERA through 13 starts.

“I think Trop has kind of flown a little under the radar in a lot of circles,” Manager Mike Scioscia said. “We know what he can do and we’re excited to have him back healthy.”

Support for Parkland

All major league teams will wear Marjory Stoneman Douglas High caps Friday as a show of support in the wake of the shooting last week in Parkland, Fla. It will have a special meaning for Angels catcher Rene Rivera, who lives in the Stoneman Douglas district and has 4-year-old twin daughters.

“It was a shock,” said Rivera, who has lived in Parkland for three years. “It’s the safest place in Florida. You don’t expect that to happen in that city. It’s sad. Shootings can happen anywhere.”

Rivera said he hopes that this incident leads to change.

“It’s about making somebody do something about it,” he said. “I think that people are tired of school shootings. School should be a place kids go to learn and be safe. It’s good that everyone gets together so we can push and do something about the weapons.”

Also

— Chris Young is sidelined with what he described as a strained right calf, the first notable injury of the spring for the Angels. Young estimated that he’ll be out another 10 days. Young said he tweaked his calf Tuesday, the second day of full-squad workouts. Young, who signed with the Angels on Sunday, projects as their fourth outfielder…

— Outfielder Jahmai Jones, considered one of the Angels’ top prospects, was looking for a second baseman’s glove when a rep from a glove manufacturer was at Angels camp on Wednesday. When word of that reached Twitter, it sparked speculation of a position switch. Jones said Thursday morning no one in the organization has suggested that to him, and he has not worked out on the infield. He said he just wanted the smaller glove to do outfield drills. He acknowledged, though, he’s ready for anything. “You never know how the game is changing,” he said. “You could be playing one position day and another position another day. I’m in big league camp as an outfielder. That’s what I’m focusing on now.”

Angels set the date for Shohei Ohtani's spring training debut

Angels set the date for Shohei Ohtani's spring training debut

The long wait to see Los Angeles Angels pitcher/slugger Shohei Ohtani take the mound in a Major League Baseball game is almost over.

It’s only spring training, but Ohtani is expected to make his Cactus League debut on Saturday against the Milwaukee Brewers according to Pedro Moura of The Athletic, assuming no complications before the weekend. We can also take a guess on when he’ll be in the lineup as a DH for the first time. According to Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register, Angels manager Mike Scioscia said Ohtani will not hit the day after he pitches. That might mean Ohtani will DH on Monday, Fletcher said.

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It’s hard to recall a more anticipated spring training debut. Because of Ohtani’s ability to pitch and hit, the 23-year-old’s legend has been growing for a while. While we have seen plenty of Japanese players make superstar impacts in Major League Baseball, there’s a little extra curiosity about Ohtani because of his two-way ability. Even seeing video of his first bullpen session with the Angels was exciting.

The game is slated to be broadcast on Fox Sports West, and the ratings that blow away any other spring training game in years. Ohtani’s spring training appearances as a pitcher and hitter will be dissected through March before the regular season begins on March 29. While most spring training games are just bland tune-ups for the regular season, Ohtani’s spring starts might feel like events, especially when you factor in his international stardom.

Now we know when Ohtani’s first spring training game is expected to be. Let the hype continue.

Los Angeles Angels’ Shohei Ohtani is set to make his Cactus League debut. (AP)

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Frank Schwab is a writer for Yahoo Sports. Have a tip? Email him at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter!

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