Albert Pujols is now hitting baseballs off a tee.
What that means for his opening-day status remains to be seen.
Fox Sports reports the Angels first basemen has been cleared to hit balls off a tee. That would be the latest step in his rehab from offseason surgery to repair the plantar plate on his right big toe.
The 36-year-old slugger spent the final month of the regular season at DH last year, bothered by pain in his foot. While he had a career low .244 batting average at the plate, he still hit 40 home runs and had a .787 OPS in 157 games.
At the time of the surgery in early November, team officials announced he would be sidelined 4 1/2 months.
That would have put him on a timetable for a return in late March, making it unlikely he would be ready for opening day.
If Pujols begins the season on the DL, the Angels will likely look for help at first base from C.J. Cron (16 home runs and a .739 OPS in 2015) and Jefry Marte, whom they acquired from the Tigers Wednesday.