The Pirates are in talks with Ryan Church

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Dejan Kovacevic says that the Pirates have had “extensive conversations” with Ryan Church about coming to Pittsburgh. The idea would be for him to start a bit, but move quietly to a bench role if and when Jose Tabata can take over the position on a full time basis. If I’m Church I’d probably feel pretty comfortable about Tabata’s ability to do that not kicking in until 2011, so Pittsburgh may not be a bad place to be in 2010.

Church hit
.273/.338/.384 with four home runs and 40 RBI in 359 at-bats between
the Braves and Mets. Assuming the back problems he had last year were temporary — as he claims they are despite the fact that no one I’ve ever known with back problems had them go away completely — he’s capable of better than that
.  He’s a solid platoon guy who’s hit .287/.357/.460 against
righties over the past three seasons and plays good defense in either corner.

Basically, he could be a good option as the sort of swingman the Pirates envision. Better than Rick Ankiel anyway, given the fact that he’d certainly want to start and play center in order to position himself for 2011.

Report: Shohei Ohtani has sprained UCL in pitching elbow

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The Angels signed Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani for a $2.3 million signing bonus last weekend. They may have damaged goods on their hands. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports that Ohtani underwent a physical that revealed a first-degree sprain of his ulnar collateral ligament. As a result, he got a platelet-rich plasma injection on October 20. This was made known to teams after Ohtani entered MLB’s posting system, so it wasn’t like the Angels went into this blind.

Ohtani’s report said, “Although partial damage of UCL in deep layer of his right UCL exists, he is able to continue full baseball participation with sufficient elbow care program.” It also said Ohtani “will most likely be available to start his throwing program approximately a month from the PRP.”

Passan notes that the report also mentioned that a “small free body” floats in Ohtani’s elbow near his UCL.

Ohtani isn’t without other injuries. He battled hamstring and ankle issues throughout 2017 and underwent right ankle surgery back in October. Thankfully for the Angels, this diagnosis is about as good as it could be considering the circumstances. However, if Ohtani does exacerbate his UCL issue, he may ultimately need Tommy John surgery at some point, which would take him out of action for at least a year.