Micah Owings may finally give full-time hitting a try

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After years of people wondering why Micah Owings didn’t attempt to become a full-time hitter after putting up good offensive numbers as a mediocre pitcher he may finally be ready to give it a shot.

Owings is currently on the disabled list with a forearm injury and once healthy might resume pitching, but in the meantime the Padres are on board with him getting regular reps as a hitter in the minors.

“I haven’t given up pitching, but I’m following my conviction to pick up a bat,” Owings told John Maffei of the North County Times. “The club is behind it, and I’m grateful for that. I’m not doing this because of the injury. I’m doing it because I have a passion for hitting and have the ability.”

Owings was an excellent hitter in college and has batted .283 with nine homers and an .813 OPS in 219 plate appearances as a big leaguer, although for whatever reason few managers have even used him as a regular pinch-hitter and he hasn’t logged more than 20 plate appearances in a season since 2009.

Toss in the fact that he’s limited to first base or an outfield corner defensively and has an ugly 72/8 K/BB ratio as a hitter and Owings is hardly a sure thing to produce enough to play regularly in the majors, but with a 4.86 career ERA and arm problems it’s certainly worth a try.

Not since Brooks Kieschnick has there been a legitimate pitcher/hitter in the majors, and if Owings can get healthy he’d seemingly be an asset in a true dual role.

Julio Urias to undergo season-ending shoulder surgery

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The news has gone from bad to worse for Dodgers’ left-hander Julio Urias, who is scheduled for anterior capsule surgery on his left shoulder next Tuesday and expected to be sidelined through the middle of the 2018 season. His MRI came back negative on Wednesday, giving the Dodgers some hope that the 20-year-old’s bout of shoulder inflammation wasn’t masking any structural damage, but the pain lingered several days later and prompted further concern from the club. The procedure will be performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache.

Urias was optioned to Triple-A Oklahoma City in late May and placed on the disabled list with left shoulder discomfort several weeks into his assignment. At the major league level, he owned a 5.40 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 4.2 SO/9 through 23 1/3 innings, going 0-2 in five starts with Los Angeles. He made a brief rebound in Triple-A, posting three wins and striking out 17 of 67 batters in 17 1/3 innings before landing on the DL.

It’s a tough blow for the southpaw, who had yet to hit his stride in the majors before getting sidelined with shoulder issues. The Dodgers were especially mindful of this outcome for Urias, and had taken preventative measures to protect his arm by establishing a strict innings limit last season. According to club president Andrew Friedman, there’s a small silver lining here: while Urias’ injury will keep him out of work for at least 12 months, he doesn’t appear to have sustained any damage to his labrum or rotator cuff, and could be facing a much more streamlined recovery process as a result. Whether he’ll be able to rebound once he takes the mound again remains to be seen.

Tigers release Francisco Rodriguez

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Tigers’ right-handed reliever Francisco Rodriguez was released on Friday, per a team announcement. The club recalled fellow right-hander Bruce Rondon from Triple-A Toledo in a corresponding move.

The former closer got the boot after losing his closing role in early May, giving left-hander Justin Wilson a chance to impress at the back end of the bullpen. It’s been a rough year for Rodriguez, who manufactured six blown saves and a 7.82 ERA, 3.9 BB/9 and 8.2 SO/9 over 25 1/3 innings for the Tigers. The final straw, it seemed, came with Robinson Cano‘s grand slam in the seventh inning of the Tigers’ 6-9 loss to the Mariners on Thursday.

While the demotion to a clean-up role and an apparent lack of communication caused Rodriguez considerable frustration, he’s two years removed from his last dominant performance as a major league closer and has shown few signs of returning to form. His recent slump doesn’t diminish the impressive totals he’s racked up over his 16-year career — 437 saves and six All-Star nominations among them — but if he can’t break out of it soon, he may not receive the kind of high leverage role he’s seeking with another big league team, either.