Getty Images

When the Los Angeles Angels open spring training later this week, two-way wonder Shohei Ohtani is expected to be a "full go" as a pitcher and hitter in 2021, manager Joe Maddon told reporters Tuesday. Ohtani did not pitch in 2019 after undergoing Tommy John surgery and he made only two starts in 2020 before going down with a flexor strain.

"I'm hearing full go. The reports I've been getting are fabulous," Maddon told reporters, including Greg Beacham of the Associated Press. "If we get Shohei in the right direction, going to be a pretty good offseason acquisition right there. I'm excited to watch this."  

Maddon added Ohtani was throwing 95-plus mph during his offseason workouts and said his mechanics looked good, according to ESPN's Alden Gonzalez. "God he looked magnificent. He looked confident," Maddon added.

Ohtani, 26, had a 3.10 ERA with 61 strikeouts in 49 1/3 innings across nine starts before hurting his elbow in 2018. He had Tommy John surgery that October, returned to the mound last year, then allowed seven runs and walked eight of the 16 batters he faced in two starts and 1 2/3 innings. Ohtani's velocity was down a bit and his command was nonexistent.

The Angels are planning to use a six-man rotation this season and, in the past, they've indicated they would like to keep Ohtani on a once-a-week schedule, preferably pitching on Sundays. Ohtani does not hit the day before or after starts, and since Monday is often an off-day, it reduces the number of games the Angels would play without him available to DH.

At the moment, the club's rotation depth chart looks something like this:

  1. RHP Dylan Bundy
  2. LHP Andrew Heaney
  3. RHP Alex Cobb
  4. LHP Jose Quintana
  5. RHP Griffin Canning
  6. RHP Shohei Ohtani

Righty Jaime Barria and lefties Patrick Sandoval and Jose Suarez are the club's rotation depth options. The Angels lack a no-doubt No. 1 starter, like Gerrit Cole (who they tried to sign last offseason) or Trevor Bauer (who they mostly shunned this offseason), but they at least have competence up and down the rotation now. That wasn't always the case in recent years.

From 2018-19, Ohtani was a force at the plate, hitting .286/.351/.532 with 40 home runs in 210 games. Last season those numbers dipped to .190/.291/.366 with seven homers in 44 games. Did the flexor strain bother him at the plate? Or did he have a down year amid the pandemic like so many others (Javier Baez, Christian Yelich, etc.)? The answer is unclear.  

The Angels they are not giving up on Ohtani as a two-way player and I wouldn't either -- he was so great as a pitcher before getting hurt in 2018 and he was so great as a hitter from 2018-19 -- though Ohtani and the Angels may be approaching breaking point. If he struggles with injuries and/or ineffectiveness again in 2021, it may be time to focus on one or the other.