Red Sox owner John Henry gave a press conference this morning summing up the team’s problems down the stretch, talking about Terry Francona’s departure and all of that stuff. We’ll have more on that later this morning, but for now I am preoccupied with one particular thing he said.
When asked about the team’s conditioning — an issue many noted as the Red Sox collapsed — Henry said that all training, throwing, running and cardio work was done as it was supposed to have been done. He said, however, that there were “nutritional issues” that concerned him.
If you’re at all familiar with my work, you have already realized that “nutritional issues” will now be beaten into the ground by me until the End Times. It’ll be like the flip side to “Best Shape of His Life” stuff. I can’t tell you how thrilled I am to have a new arrow in the cliche quiver.
Still, I’m puzzled. How on earth — given what we know about how the Sox spent their time in the clubhouse — could they have “nutritional issues?” It almost makes me think that they were drinking the wrong kind of beer.
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.