Zack Greinke is running out of time to get ready for the start of the season, but he’s beginning to make progress from his sore right elbow.
According to Dylan Hernandez of the Los Angeles Times, Greinke played catch yesterday for the first time since he received a platelet-rich plasma injection in his elbow on Monday. He made a total of 63 throws, first from a distance of 60 feet before stretching things out to 90 feet.
“It was pretty good,” Greinke said, adding that he hoped to increase the number of throws Saturday. “I don’t think anyone was anticipating it not going good. As expected.”
Greinke will be limited to playing catch for the next several days and it’s unclear when he’ll be ready to throw from a mound. Barring any setbacks, Dodgers manager Don Mattingly said that he’ll get two more starts this spring, but even that probably wouldn’t be enough to get him properly stretched out for the start of the season. The Dodgers won’t need a fifth starter for the first time until April 15, so the smart money is on him beginning the season on the disabled list.
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.