The Dodgers have shut down reliever Hong-Chih Kuo for the second time in the past week after he felt continued discomfort in his left elbow on Friday, reports Tony Jackson of ESPNLosAngeles.com.
“Nothing felt really bad, but it wasn’t real good as far as how it
felt,” Dodgers manager Joe Torre said. “I don’t think he will be shut
down for an extended period of time, but we will have to see what
Kuo first complained of soreness when he was scratched from pitching in his native Taiwan two weeks ago. Though a precautionary MRI earlier this week found his elbow to structurally sound, he only has two outings under his belt this spring. Today’s setback all but guarantees that he’ll begin the season on the disabled list.
“It wouldn’t surprise me,” Torre said. “It’s just the fact that we’re
this close to the end. But I’m not sure at this point.”
The 28-year-old Kuo has a long history of elbow problems, including two Tommy John surgeries. Just last season he said that he would retire before undergoing another surgery on his elbow.
Yankees’ special advisor and former outfielder Hideki Matsui expects to help the club “convince or recruit” Japanese two-way star Shohei Otani, according to a report from MLB.com’s Deesha Thosar. The Yankees are currently viewed as the favorites to sign Otani, though there still figures to be plenty of competition for his services when he finally becomes eligible to enter Major League Baseball.
Matsui also told Thosar that while he hasn’t seen a player find success as a hybrid pitcher/slugger in the majors, he’s taken notice of Otani’s success in both areas. “He’s done well in Japan, so as a baseball fan I’m looking forward to how he’s going to do here in the Majors and in the U.S.,” Matsui said, later adding, “If [pitching and hitting is] something he wants to do, and the team wants it, then why not?”
Neither the Yankees nor any other suitor should be too concerned with Otani’s ability to translate his .332 batting average and 3.20 ERA to MLB — at least, not just yet. There are still a few roadblocks in his path to the major leagues, most notably the lack of approval from the Players Association. Per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, the union doesn’t want to sign off on an agreement that would give the Nippon Ham Fighters a $20 million posting fee in exchange for Otani’s services. According to the posting system rules, Otani himself would be eligible to receive no more than a $4 million signing bonus.
The good news in all of this? The union agreed to reach a final decision by Monday, November 21, so there’s still a chance Major League Baseball will see the talented two-way player bring his unique skillset to the field in 2018.