Lance Berkman: outfielder?

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Lance Berkman hasn’t played outfield since 2007. He hasn’t played outfield regularly since 2004.  He hasn’t played outfield well since, well, if anyone knows the answer to that, please let me know. He’s also much bigger than he used to be and age has touched him as it touches us all. Point is: if you’re expecting Lance Berkman to play outfield, you’re probably not being realistic.

But hey, with no baseball games happening for several days we’re all going a bit loopy, so you can excuse Troy Renck of the Denver Post for imagining Lance Berkman coming to play for the Colorado Rockies as a potential platoon partner for Todd Helton and as someone who could play in the outfield, presumably when righties are pitching. Renck talked to Berkman about the general idea of Colorado and Berkman said he might be interested

Personally I couldn’t see this working.  Yes, the Rockies are openly talking about finding a platoon partner for Helton, but it seems like you’d want someone more versatile than the Puma.

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.