The Tigers are hunting for starting pitching as aggressively as any team in baseball, and they’re looking at Baltimore’s Jeremy Guthrie and San Diego’s Aaron Harang as fallback options if Colorado’s Ubaldo Jimenez and the Dodgers’ Hiroki Kuroda prove out of reach.
Detroit is in need of a starter after shifting Phil Coke back to the pen. Charlie Furbush replaced him in the rotation, but he’s struggled mightily in his two starts to date.
FOXSports.com’s Jon Paul Morosi has the Guthrie news, putting him third on the Tigers’ list of potential pitching acquisitions. Morosi says the Orioles recently had a scout watching Detroit’s Triple-A affiliate. Guthrie is 3-13 with a 4.45 ERA this season.
SI.com’s Jon Heyman says both the Tigers and Indians have made calls on Harang, who has pitched 13 scoreless innings in two starts since coming off the DL. He’s 7-3 with a 3.19 ERA in 15 starts for the Padres.
The Tigers are currently a half-game back of the Indians in the AL Central.
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.