Some potentially awful news here for the Rangers.
According to Richard Durrett of ESPN Dallas, third baseman Adrian Beltre was lifted in the fifth inning of Wednesday’s game against the Indians after feeling discomfort in his left shoulder following a stellar defensive play at the hot corner in the second.
Beltre dove hard to his left on a sharply-stuck grounder from Cleveland batter Russ Canzler, then completed an impressive throw across the diamond to get the out. He remained in the game for the next couple frames but the discomfort only grew and he was eventually replaced by youngster Mike Olt.
Beltre is undergoing an MRI, the results of which probably won’t be available until Thursday morning.
The 33-year-old has a .318/.355/.561 batting line, 32 homers and 92 RBI in 138 games this season. His replacement, Olt, entered play Wednesday with just four hits in 37 major-league plate appearances.
UPDATE, 10:35 PM: And now Olt has left the game with an apparent foot injury, reports Durrett. Ian Kinsler is at third base and Jurickson Profar entered to play second.
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.