Zack Greinke was scratched from his scheduled start today due to a sore right elbow, but an examination by Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles has ruled out anything serious.
The Dodgers just announced that Greinke was diagnosed with inflammation in the back of his elbow. This confirms an MRI last week which found no structural damage. Greinke was given a platelet-rich plasma injection and anti-inflammatory medication while the hope is that he’ll be able to resume throwing after 2-3 days of rest.
While it would be better news if Greinke wasn’t hurting at all, the Dodgers can let out a sigh of relief following this diagnosis. Eventually the clock may work against him to be ready for the start of the regular season, but the Dodgers have plenty of starting pitching depth if he needs an extra week or two. After signing him to a six-year, $147 million contract over the winter, there’s no reason to push it.
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.