D-Backs execute lottery prank on pitcher Wade Miley

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Diamondbacks starter Wade Miley finished a close second in NL Rookie of the Year voting last season, but he may be more well-known in the team’s clubhouse for his love of lottery tickets. In Steve Gilbert’s column for MLB.com, he describes how Miley and mental skills coach Peter Crone would sit together and scratch off lottery tickets every Sunday.

Crone and reliever J.J. Putz discussed pranking Miley and came up with a scheme involving the lottery tickets. From Gilbert’s article:

Fellow reliever Will Harris picked up a fake lottery ticket from Spencer’s and they mixed it in with the real ones last Sunday.

“I thought I won $10,000,” Miley said.

As he jumped around high-fiving his teammates in the trainer’s room, Crone brought him back down to earth.

“You know there’s a lot of people in here right now for no reason,” Crone told him.

It was then Miley realized he had been pranked. To make matters worse, the team sent the video to MLB Network’s Intentional Talk, and it aired this past week.

“They set me up,” Miley said. “The whole world knows now.”

As for his efforts on the field, Miley at least is following up his great rookie campaign with a solid sophomore season, posting a 3.63 ERA in 148.2 innings over 24 starts. That will surely help relieve any lottery-related embarrassment.

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.