Determined Ohtani charging back into 2-way role for Angels

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Los Angeles Angels designated hitter Shohei Ohtani (17) catches a ball during a baseball practice at Angels Stadium on Friday, July 3, 2020, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Ashley Landis)

ANAHEIM, Calif. – Shohei Ohtani is doing twice as much work as his Los Angeles Angels teammates again, and he's thrilled about it.

The majors' first serious two-way player in decades is alternating between batting practice and bullpen sessions this week at the Big A. Ohtani is determined to contribute on the mound and at the plate when the Angels return to action later this month for the short major league season.

Ohtani will pitch roughly once a week, and he'll serve as the Halos' designated hitter for a few games in between. If all goes as planned, he'll get at least eight mound starts and at least 30 games as a DH.

He has been waiting to get back in full form since late 2018, when his AL Rookie of the Year campaign ended with Tommy John surgery. After roughly 17 months of patient arm rehab and a four-month pause at the start of the coronavirus pandemic, Ohtani is fully healthy and eager to do it all again.

The necessary training regimen keeps him uncommonly busy, but Ohtani embraces it with the ascetic mentality that got him to elite levels in Japan and North America.

“It’s been normal for me to be doing both pitching and hitting my whole professional career, so last year was the weird season for me,” Ohtani said Saturday through his translator. “Actually, it feels like I’m going back to my normal routine this year. In that sense, I feel very comfortable. And it’s a short season. It’s more of a sprint than a marathon, so I’m just trying to go 100 percent out of the gate.”

Ohtani largely stuck around Anaheim for the past few months, and he was allowed to keep up his workouts at Angel Stadium because he was recovering from injury. He apparently formed a comfortable bubble around his life and stayed focused on the future.

“Other than going to the field and back, I had a lot of down time,” Ohtani said. “Obviously, I have to eat and cook and stay healthy. On my down time, I was reading books and watching TV, but I would say I spent most of the time sleeping.”