When Wil Myers suddenly gave up on David Ortiz’s fly to the warning track in right in the fourth, it looked for all the world that he thought he was called off. Myers, though, said after the game that no one else yelled for the ball.
Myers’ explanation was that he saw center fielder Desmond Jennings out of the corner of his eye and figured it was Jennings’ ball. Myers, though, had the easier play on it. In fact, he seemed to have it all lined up until he suddenly put his arm down and took several steps forward, thinking that he was getting out of Jennings’ way. Instead, the ball dropped and bounced over the fence for a double.
Myers’ miscue gave the Red Sox runners on second and third with no outs in the fourth. They went on score five times in the inning, taking a 5-2 lead in a game they went on to win 12-2.
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.