Here’s an interesting note as we wait for the mega-deal between the Red Sox and Dodgers to become official.
According to Bill Center of the San Diego Union-Tribune, the Padres are expected to call up prospect right-hander Casey Kelly to make his major league debut Monday against the Braves at PETCO Park. Of course, Kelly was acquired along with Anthony Rizzo, Reymond Fuentes and Eric Patterson in December of 2010 in the deal that sent Adrian Gonzalez to the Red Sox.
Kelly hasn’t pitched much this season due to a right elbow strain, but he has a 3.78 ERA and 18/3 K/BB ratio in 16 2/3 innings over three starts since returning to action with Double-A San Antonio. The 22-year-old owns a 3.78 ERA over his first 73 pro starts and has averaged 7.3 K/9 and 2.4 BB/9. If added to the rotation, he will be the 15th pitcher to start a game for the Padres this season.
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.