Wrigley Field is keeping the urinal troughs

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I’m going to Wrigley Field on Friday for the Pirates-Cubs game. Assuming that the upcoming renovation would spell their doom, I had planned to say goodbye to the Wrigley urinal troughs when I was there. For, whatever you may think of them, the ones in Wrigley are likely the last of their kind in Major League Baseball ballparks.

But wait! Via Bleed Cubbie Blue, we learn that they are to be saved!

“For the last several years, we have basically undertaken a number of focus groups and surveys among fans as we’ve looked to put together our plan to restore and improve the stadium,” Green said. “What we found is that our male fans have no problems with the communal nature of the troughs, cheek to cheek if you will. It’s part of enjoying the game.”

Focus groups: way worse than urinal troughs, generally speaking, but in this case the preservers of history. And culture. And whatever else you may call urinal troughs.

BCB’s Al Yellon provides the context as well as a recent photo of said troughs. You know, for science. I’m sure that was what Al told the security folks at Wrigley as he snapped the photo in the men’s room anyway.  And thank God for his work in this regard.

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.