Shohei Ohtani returns to double track role with Los Angeles this season

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Shohei Ohtani will resume his two-way career with the Los Angeles Angels when baseball returns.

Angels general manager Billy Eppler confirmed Tuesday that his Japanese star will pitch and hit in the majors this season.

Ohtani was just a designated hitter last season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. It was not expected to launch in 2020 until at least May, and Eppler confirmed that the coronavirus pandemic has not altered the Angels' plans.

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"We'll probably have a little more governor over him, at least in the beginning," Eppler said. "He's had several live sessions (pitches against hitters), but we want to increase that intensity a little bit more and put him in a game situation." Just observing how it responds day by day will help guide us on how much we can hit the gas. We hope he is on the mound and stays on the mound and goes through spring training. ”

Manager Joe Maddon said last week that he expected Ohtani to start approximately once a week on the mound while serving as the Halos' designated hitter in 3-4 games between starts. The Angels could have a six-man rotation for the short season.

Ohtani hit .286 last season with 18 home runs and 62 RBIs and a .848 OPS in 106 games. His plate production was almost identical to his work in 2018, when he was AL's Rookie of the Year while making 10 starts on the mound.

Eppler said that neither of the Angels' players intends to opt out of the shortened season. That includes three-time American League MVP Mike Trout, whose wife is due to have her first child later this summer.

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Eppler confirmed that first-round pick Reid Detmers will be on the Angels' summer roster as the 56th player, although the left-handed starter has not yet been officially added.

Eppler also went into detail about the Angels' adherence to health and safety protocols at Angel Stadium and Blair Field in Long Beach, where the Angels will also celebrate their summer camp. The Angels have removed couches and communal tables from their clubhouses in an attempt to remind their players of the new realities.

"Think of the clubhouse as more of a closet," said Eppler, who received positive feedback from his players about his safety steps. "It's where the clothes hang. In the absence of anything you have to do in the training room or the weight room, go outside."

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