Roger Clemens won’t rule out comeback in 2013

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Roger Clemens has shut himself down for the rest of 2012, but he hasn’t completely given up on the dream of one day returning to the major leagues.

The 50-year-old right-hander will be in Kissimmee, Florida with the Astros next spring to fulfill his personal services contract and may be more than just a special instructor if his arm cooperates in workouts leading up to the opening of camp.

Via Zachary Levine of the Houston Chronicle:

“I might be going again here in February or something like that,” Clemens said Saturday. “I’ll be throwing. I don’t think it’s going to be competitive, but you guys know with me, I’m never going to shut the door on anything. Who knows what might happen.”

Clemens threw seven scoreless innings over two starts earlier this summer for the independent Sugar Land Skeeters. The seven-time Cy Young Award winner hasn’t pitched in the majors since the 2007 season.

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.