Scott Olsen tossed four no-hit innings yesterday in his first relief appearance since 2005, but afterward made it very clear that he wants nothing to do with the bullpen long term.
I’d like to start. I don’t want to be a bullpen guy. The biggest difference in not being able to throw 140 feet before I get on the mound. That’s not going to work. I’ve done it. I don’t get on the mound unless I play long toss. That’s the biggest difference. Obviously, I don’t want to be in the bullpen. I’d rather start. That’s not what they want me to do.
Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post described Olsen as “slumped in a chair in front of his locker” and noted his “glum postgame demeanor.”
Olsen’s reluctance to fill a role he’s basically never filled before is certainly understandable, but he’s at the “beggars can’t be choosers” portion of his career at this point. He’s gone 3-8 with a 5.88 ERA in 15 starts this season and is 23-38 with a 5.22 ERA in 92 starts since his good rookie season for the Marlins in 2006.
Four years, 92 starts, and 516 innings worth of a 5.22 ERA as a starter basically means you no longer have any say over your role. And if anything Olsen should be open to a move to the bullpen because it might extend his career and give him a chance to be something more than a fourth or fifth starter.
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.