Quick hits: A-Rod is a centaur and other items of note

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– Poor Alex Rodriguez. The usual (and unusual) suspects are already piling on after his punchless start
to the World Series. From the unusual department, on Friday we learned
that
he supposedly has two paintings depicting himself as a centaur above his bed.



– Orioles international scouting
director John Stockstill met with Cuban left-hander Aroldis Chapman in New York on Friday,
joining a host of teams who have acknowledged interest in the 21-year-old fireballer. Peter Schmuck of the Baltimore Sun, who saw the Orioles balk on Dominican shortstop Miguel Angel Sano, has a hard time believing that the Orioles will “pony up.



– On the heels of Matthew Pouliot’s analysis of Andy Pettitte’s Hall of Fame chances on Friday, Tommy Bennett of Beyond the Boxscore concludes that the veteran left-hander is “slightly above average.”



– Bill Baer of Crashburn Alley previews Saturday’s pitching matchup
between Pettitte and Cole Hamels, reminding us that “Hamels has been
much better than his statistics have shown and Pettitte has been
slightly better.”




– And finally, don’t forget to play “What Yankee Megastar Are You?”

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

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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.