Wallace Matthews of ESPN New York reports that the Yankees may be going into the 2011 season with the rotation they currently have: Sabathia, Hughes, Burnett and … filler:
Having finished second, or maybe third, in the Cliff Lee sweepstakes, theYankees are prepared to go into the 2011 season with a pitching rotation of CC Sabathia,A.J. Burnett and Phil Hughes , with the remaining spots filled out by youngsters, many of whom have never pitched above the Triple-A level.
“I’m not saying I want to do it,” general manager Brian Cashman said in a telephone conversation Monday morning, “but I may have to do it … If we get Pettitte back, so much the better. But I’m not waiting for him. He told me not to.”
There was a time when we’d say “oh, that’s just Cashman talking baloney. Watch: the Yankees will make a big splash this week and make us all seem like fools.” Based on how this offseason has gone, however, we’re not in that world anymore.
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.