Blue Jays GM says three spots open in 2013 lineup

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Alex Anthopoulos is looking ahead to 2013 and says six spots in his lineup are already spoken for:

Obviously, those entrenched players are J.P. Arencibia, Yunel Escobar, Brett Lawrie, Colby Rasmus, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion.

Second base is open because Kelly Johnson is a free agent. It doesn’t look like there’s much chance of Escobar moving to second next spring. Adeiny Hechevarria has hit just .237/.272/.329 with a 24/3 K/BB ratio in 76 at-bats since his callup, and there’s little reason to think he’d be an adequate regular at shortstop.

Likewise, the audition of Anthony Gose in the outfield hasn’t gone too well. He and Moises Sierra will likely return to Triple-A next year. Rajai Davis could stick around, but it’d be as a reserve. The Jays’ 2013 left fielder figures to come through free agency or in trade.

Encarnacion will either play first base or DH, depending on who gets brought in this winter. Adam Lind is due $5 million next season, but the team is probably done with him. Trading him for another similarly poor contract seems like the best option. 2008 first-round pick David Cooper did pretty well for himself before hurting his back last month, hitting .300/.324/.464 in 140 at-bats, but he looks like a fallback option at first.

The Jays possess a fine offensive nucleus, so if they can get a couple of legitimate upgrades, they’ll have a lineup to be reckoned with next year. As is, they currently rank 12th among the 14 AL teams in OPS from left fielders. They’re middle in the pack at both first base and DH, but that’s because Encarnacion has been terrific while splitting time evenly between the two spots. Their non-Encarnacion first base-DHs have been superior only to Seattle’s.

Report: Shohei Ohtani has sprained UCL in pitching elbow

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The Angels signed Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani for a $2.3 million signing bonus¬†last weekend. They may have damaged goods on their hands. Jeff Passan of Yahoo Sports reports that Ohtani underwent a physical that revealed a first-degree sprain of his ulnar collateral ligament. As a result, he got a platelet-rich plasma injection on October 20. This was made known to teams after Ohtani entered MLB’s posting system, so it wasn’t like the Angels went into this blind.

Ohtani’s report said, “Although partial damage of UCL in deep layer of his right UCL exists, he is able to continue full baseball participation with sufficient elbow care program.” It also said Ohtani “will most likely be available to start his throwing program approximately a month from the PRP.”

Passan notes that the report also mentioned that a “small free body” floats in Ohtani’s elbow near his UCL.

Ohtani isn’t without other injuries. He battled hamstring and ankle issues throughout 2017 and underwent right ankle surgery back in October. Thankfully for the Angels, this diagnosis is about as good as it could be considering the circumstances. However, if Ohtani does exacerbate his UCL issue, he may ultimately need Tommy John surgery at some point, which would take him out of action for at least a year.