The Pirates and Nationals were supposed to play the second game of their two-game series this afternoon with a 1pm start. Except someone looked at the forecast, saw a chance for thunderstorms — a good chance, to be fair — and cancelled the game. Cancelled early, too, as the postponement came down before 10AM.
And, according to my correspondents, it was sunny in Washington — or at least not raining — until at least 20 minutes ago, which would have all but certainly allowed the Nats and Buccos to get the game in.
I supposed you catch hell either way: if you try to play and it rains someone gets on you for ignoring a foreboding forecast. If you cancel and it doesn’t, well, you have everyone wondering why you didn’t wait for the rain to actually starts.
Either way, I can’t blame the weatherman. My old man was one for 40 years, and that just wouldn’t be right.
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.