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Shohei Ohtani still wants to be a 2-way player

Angels star plans on both hitting and pitching in 2021

MLB: Los Angeles Angels at Los Angeles Dodgers Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The 2020 season was rough for the Angels, but it was especially trying for Shohei Ohtani, whose third major league season was marked by slumps and injuries.

Heading into this year, there was buzz surrounding Ohtani, who was recovered from Tommy John surgery and expected to be the dynamic two-way player he showed for the first few months of his rookie season in 2018. Instead, he made no such impact either at the plate or on the mound.

He made only two starts and recorded a total of five outs, allowing seven runs while walking eight. A grade 1-2 strain of the flexor pronator mass in his right elbow shut down his pitching for the season, but also affected his hitting.

Ohtani hit just .190/.291/.366 with seven home runs in 47 games, an 84 wRC+ after posting above-average 151 and 123 wRC+ in his first two seasons.

“If there’s anything bothering him, he doesn’t let on. He is very good at either concealing his feelings, or just being able to turn the page,” manager Joe Maddon said on a conference call Sunday. “But it has to bother him. To suffer injuries, to not be able to pitch, to have has rehabilitation interrupted, it’s not easy.”

At some point soon after the season, Ohtani will begin a throwing program to prepare for 2021. There is some hope that, after an offseason recovering from both Tommy John surgery and knee surgery, a fully healthy winter for Ohtani will pay dividends in 2021. For now, those immediate future plans include both hitting and pitching.

“I feel the exact same way about being a two-way player as I have in the past,” Ohtani said Sunday, through interpreter Ippei Muzuhara. “I just need to get past being able to throw without any worries or setbacks. Once I get through that point, I think everything’s going to fall into place.”