Chris Carpenter to undergo season-ending surgery

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UPDATE: Jenifer Langosch of MLB.com reports that Carpenter will undergo season-ending surgery.

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Chris Carpenter suffered another setback in his recovery from year-long shoulder problems and now Joe Strauss of the St. Louis Post Dispatch reports that the former Cy Young winner and the Cardinals have “discussed a second shutdown and possible season-ending surgery.”

That’s a change from last week, when Carpenter opted against surgery for thoracic outlet syndrome. However, according to Strauss the Cardinals canceled his bullpen session yesterday and there’s no longer a timetable for his return to the mound.

Strauss also notes that manager Mike Matheny and general manager John Mozeliak have remained vague about details surrounding Carpenter’s status, continuing a season-long trend for the Cardinals. At this point it sounds all but guaranteed that Carpenter will need the surgery and six-month recovery, but the question is whether it can wait until after the season. And unfortunately it’s looking more and more like the answer is no.

Carpenter signed a two-year, $21 million contract extension last September, but was shut down in spring training and hasn’t started a big-league game since beating the Rangers in Game 7 of the World Series.

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.