Link-O-Rama: Mariners set to part with Betancourt?

Leave a comment

* Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times speculates
that the Mariners are close to trading Yuniesky Betancourt after he was
scratched from a minor-league rehab game Thursday despite claiming to
be healthy.

* Sony has hired Aaron Sorkin to rewrite the Moneyball movie script in the hopes of salvaging the project after Steven Soderbergh walked away. According to the New York Times,
if Sorkin can make the rewrites quickly Sony is hoping to find a new
director and the shoot the film “in the fall of this year” with Brad
Pitt still in the Billy Beane role.

* Last night David Ortiz became the 124th member of the 300-homer club, joining 18 other active players. Ortiz is batting .300 with 10 homers in his last 29 games after hitting just .188 with one homer through 49 games.

* Derek Jeter talked up the homefield advantage of the Metrodome and opined that “it’s going to be tough” for the Twins in their new ballpark next season … after the Yankees completed a three-game sweep in Minnesota. Jeter and the Yankees are now 46-16 against the Twins since 2002.

Starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani will pinch-hit and pinch-run for the Angels in 2018

Getty Images
1 Comment

The Angels’ bench is looking woefully thin this winter — so thin, in fact, that manager Mike Scioscia says he’s considering utilizing starting pitcher Shohei Ohtani as a pinch-hitter and pinch-runner on the days he’s not scheduled to pitch.

I’ve never had a pitcher pinch-run,” Scioscia told reporters Saturday. “There’s more bad than good that can come out of it. But Shohei is not just a pitcher. He’s a guy that has the ability to do some of the things coming off the bench, whether it’s pinch-hit or pinch-run, and we’re definitely going to tap into that if it’s necessary, because we feel we’re not putting him at risk. It’s something he’s able to do.

Granted, spring training allows for a certain amount of experimentation before managers and players decide what works best for them, so this may not be the strategy the Angels employ for the entire season. In addition to coming off the bench between starts, Ohtani is also expected to see 2-3 days at DH every week, forcing Albert Pujols to shift over to first base to accommodate the new two-way star.

Ohtani’s hitting prowess has already been well-documented — he has a lifetime .286/.358/.500 batting line from NPB and crushed a batting practice home run during his initial workouts with the team this week — but his skills on the basepaths have received less attention so far. MLB Pipeline describes the 23-year-old phenom as a “well-above average runner” whose speed has yet to manifest stolen bases: he’s nabbed just 13 bases in 17 chances over the last five years. That’s a number Scioscia hopes to see increased this season, though he doesn’t want his ace pitcher making any head-first slides on the basepaths to do so.

To be sure, it’s an unorthodox role for any young player to step into, but if anyone can pull it off, Ohtani can.