Dan Haren likely to miss start with more back problems

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Back problems have plagued Dan Haren for much of the season. After taking a little break from the Angels’ rotation he turned in consecutive Quality Starts, but now a new back injury is expected to keep him from making his scheduled start tomorrow against the Rangers.

Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports that Haren “tweaked a muscle in the right side of his back” last week, which is different than the lower-back tightness that required a disabled list stint previously.

Either way Haren likely won’t face Texas and is once again a big question mark for the stretch run. He had a five-start stretch in which he allowed 27 runs in 27 innings and served up nine homers before finally admitting that the back problems were a big factor and if that’s a possibility again it doesn’t really help Haren or the Angels to keep trotting him out there.

Hideki Matsui thinks Shohei Otani should pitch and hit in MLB

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Yankees’ special advisor and former outfielder Hideki Matsui expects to help the club “convince or recruit” Japanese two-way star Shohei Otani, according to a report from MLB.com’s Deesha Thosar. The Yankees are currently viewed as the favorites to sign Otani, though there still figures to be plenty of competition for his services when he finally becomes eligible to enter Major League Baseball.

Matsui also told Thosar that while he hasn’t seen a player find success as a hybrid pitcher/slugger in the majors, he’s taken notice of Otani’s success in both areas. “He’s done well in Japan, so as a baseball fan I’m looking forward to how he’s going to do here in the Majors and in the U.S.,” Matsui said, later adding, “If [pitching and hitting is] something he wants to do, and the team wants it, then why not?”

Neither the Yankees nor any other suitor should be too concerned with Otani’s ability to translate his .332 batting average and 3.20 ERA to MLB — at least, not just yet. There are still a few roadblocks in his path to the major leagues, most notably the lack of approval from the Players Association. Per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman, the union doesn’t want to sign off on an agreement that would give the Nippon Ham Fighters a $20 million posting fee in exchange for Otani’s services. According to the posting system rules, Otani himself would be eligible to receive no more than a $4 million signing bonus.

The good news in all of this? The union agreed to reach a final decision by Monday, November 21, so there’s still a chance Major League Baseball will see the talented two-way player bring his unique skillset to the field in 2018.