Could Chris Tillman be headed for the minors?

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Chris Tillman throwing.jpgIt could happen, at least according to what Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com has heard:

According to some Orioles sources, Tillman
is not the front runner for the teams 5th job. Hernandez and Berken
would come first right now.

Tillman, who turns 22 in April, was 2-5 with a 5.40 ERA in 12 starts last season. He was widely considered the favorite to earn the fifth starter gig coming into camp and his 3.86 ERA in 16 1/3 innings this spring suggests that he has done little to lose the assignment.

However, including his excellent performance against the Red Sox this afternoon, David Hernandez now has a 3.00 ERA and an impressive 20/3 K/BB ratio over 15 spring innings. Jason Berken, previously thought of as a long-man or spot starter coming into camp, has a 2.84 ERA and 7/3 K/BB ratio in 12 2/3 innings.

Manager Dave Trembley described the competition like this:

“I would say we’re going to go 15 rounds with it,”
Trembley said. “We’re going to go the distance and keep battling and
keep
running these guys out here and try to make the right decision and the
best
decision. Guys are answering the bell and they’re making it real tough
for me.
And I like it.”

Besides trying to cram almost every sports cliche imaginable in one sentence, it’s becoming clear that Tillman isn’t the lock we all thought he was.
  

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.