Russell Martin hates the Red Sox

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The funny thing is that if Boston had offered him an extra $1 million, he’d likely be playing for the Red Sox right now.

Martin, who chose instead to try to resurrect his career with the Yankees last winter, told ESPN New York’s Andrew Marchand, “I hate the Red Sox.”

“Anything to get the Red Sox out would be awesome for me,” he said one day before the teams square off in a three-game series at Yankee Stadium.

Martin couldn’t isolate exactly why he feels as he does.

“I guess it just comes with the territory,” Martin said. “When you wear the pinstripes, you just kind of learn to be that way.”

Maybe.  But if Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera and CC Sabathia hate the Red Sox, they sure have done a good job of covering it up.  Mostly it seems like the best players on both teams have great respect for the best on the other, perhaps with some exceptions pertaining to Alex Rodriguez, Josh Beckett and Joba Chamberlain.

The Red Sox and Yankees were the finalists for Martin’s services last winter after he was let go by the Dodgers.  The Red Sox opted to stick with Jarrod Saltalamacchia after Martin took the Yankees’ $2.5 million offer, and it’s worked out quite well for both teams.  Red Sox catchers are fourth in the AL with a .743 OPS this year, while Yankees catchers are eighth at .716.  Martin himself is hitting .236/.323/.404 in 406 at-bats.

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.