Angels' Shohei Ohtani Completes Rehab from Tommy John Surgery

Megan ArmstrongAnalyst IIIDecember 20, 2019

ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA - SEPTEMBER 10: Shohei Ohtani #17 of the Los Angeles Angels jokes with bench coach Josh Paul #88 (not in photo) during batting practice prior to the MLB game between the Cleveland Indians and the Los Angeles Angels at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 10, 2019 in Anaheim, California. The Indians defeated the Angels 8-0. (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
Victor Decolongon/Getty Images

The Los Angeles Angels are primed to welcome a fully healthy Shohei Ohtani in 2020.

Ohtani "has completed his throwing program, the final step in his rehabilitation from Tommy John surgery, and was cleared to return to his native Japan, where he will rest and recover for his anticipated return to a two-way role in 2020," ESPN's Alden Gonzalez reported Thursday. 

The 2018 American League Rookie of the Year underwent surgery to his right (throwing) elbow in Oct. 2018, which limited him to playing designated hitter for the Angels in 2019. Ohtani appeared in 106 games last season, starting 91, and the left-handed batter posted a .286/.343/.505 slash line with 18 home runs and 62 RBI. 

As a pitcher in 2018, Ohtani went 4-2 with a 3.31 ERA and 1.16 WHIP in 10 starts. The 25-year-old is expected to return to the mound next season, but L.A. will be cautious:

Jeff Fletcher @JeffFletcherOCR

Ohtani is not expected to pitch more than 1x a week, and the Angels will limit his innings after TJ. Canning has not pitched a full season, and Heaney has had injury issues, so Teheran and Bundy provide innings cushions around all that, even if a Keuchel/Ryu is still added.

"Why wouldn't you?" new Angels manager Joe Maddon said during winter meetings last week when asked if Ohtani could hit during games he's also pitching, according to Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register. "That's another 50 at-bats a year that you're going to get out of the guy that you wouldn't get otherwise."

Ohtani's expanded role will be just one way the Angels look different in 2020 after nabbing All-Star third baseman Anthony Rendon in free agency on a seven-year, $245 million contract. Both players being paired with three-time AL MVP Mike Trout might be enough to put the Angels in the postseason for the first time since 2014.