From Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com comes word that the Angels have signed veteran reliever Juan Rincon to a minor league contract. The deal does not include an invitation to spring training, meaning Rincon will be in minor league camp with little-to-no shot of cracking the Opening Day roster.
The 33-year-old right-hander posted a 2.98 ERA and 51/19 K/BB ratio across 45 1/3 innings last season in independent ball. Once a steady setup man for the Twins, he owns a 4.03 career major-league ERA.
Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times recalls that Angels manager Mike Scioscia was quite critical of Rincon after the reliever tested positive for performance-enhancing drugs back in 2005. At the time, the punishment for a first-time PED offender was a quick and easy 10-game suspension.
“When Juan Rincon pitches 11 days from now, are the effects from steroids deteriorated to the point where he’ll pitch at the level of his God-given talents? No,” Scioscia told reporters in the summer of ’05. “He’ll still have the benefits of whatever steroids he was taking. I guarantee in 11 days Juan Rincon will not become a mere mortal again.”
Rincon will act as organizational relief depth this season for Anaheim. He’s likely to open the year at AAA.
The Angels signed Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani for a $2.3 million signing bonus last weekend. They may have damaged goods on their hands. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports that Ohtani underwent a physical that revealed a first-degree sprain of his ulnar collateral ligament. As a result, he got a platelet-rich plasma injection on October 20. This was made known to teams after Ohtani entered MLB’s posting system, so it wasn’t like the Angels went into this blind.
Ohtani’s report said, “Although partial damage of UCL in deep layer of his right UCL exists, he is able to continue full baseball participation with sufficient elbow care program.” It also said Ohtani “will most likely be available to start his throwing program approximately a month from the PRP.”
Passan notes that the report also mentioned that a “small free body” floats in Ohtani’s elbow near his UCL.
Ohtani isn’t without other injuries. He battled hamstring and ankle issues throughout 2017 and underwent right ankle surgery back in October. Thankfully for the Angels, this diagnosis is about as good as it could be considering the circumstances. However, if Ohtani does exacerbate his UCL issue, he may ultimately need Tommy John surgery at some point, which would take him out of action for at least a year.