Last season the Mariners ranked dead last in baseball with 513 runs, which was 74 runs fewer than the 29th-ranked Pirates and a historically inept total.
They’ve been slightly better so far this year, ranking 24th in scoring, but their lineup for tonight’s game against the Royals might be more embarrassing than anything that happened last year because of this:
Adam Kennedy is starting at designated hitter and batting cleanup.
Yes, the same 35-year-old Adam Kennedy who batted .249 with a .327 slugging percentage in 135 games for the Nationals last season, has hit .266 with a .361 slugging percentage during the past five years, and has never cracked 15 homers or a .450 slugging percentage in his 13-season career.
He’s starting at DH. And batting cleanup. For an MLB team. In mid-April. Gonna be another long season in Seattle.
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.