Clayton Kershaw scratched with hip injury

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Clayton Kershaw won’t start the series finale against the Giants on Sunday night. He’s been scratched because of hip discomfort, and Joe Blanton will pitch in his place tonight.

It’s certainly good news for the Giants as they throw Barry Zito to go for the series win after splitting the first two games in San Francisco. Kershaw had a 1.73 ERA in four starts against the Giants this season, though that had only gotten him a 1-3 record. As you might have guessed, he wasn’t matched up against Zito in any of those starts.

Blanton last pitched Monday, so tonight’s start will be on five days’ rest for him. He’s 0-2 with a 5.30 ERA in three starts against the Giants this season.

Kershaw is expected to come back and pitch Tuesday. He got a cortisone shot for the hip on Saturday and he wanted to pitch tonight, but the Dodgers declined to give him the go-ahead.

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.