Jake Peavy: Many Red Sox players “holding out hope” Stephen Drew returns

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The decision isn’t up to the players, but Red Sox right-hander Jake Peavy had an interesting comment on free agent shortstop Stephen Drew this morning:

The Red Sox haven’t officially closed the door on Drew, but Alex Speier of WEEI.com hears that it would likely be limited to a one-year deal or one-year deal with a player option which could help the team for luxury tax purposes. Otherwise, top prospect Xander Bogaerts will take over at shortstop.

If Drew wants a guaranteed multi-year contract, he’ll likely have to get it elsewhere, but it’s tough to see where he gets it at the moment. The Mets continue to downplay the chances of a match while the Yankees reportedly aren’t interested despite an obvious need for depth.

Drew, who turns 31 in March, hit .253/.333/.443 with 13 home runs and 67 RBI in 124 games for the World Series champions last year while playing excellent defense at shortstop. He declined a one-year, $14.1 million qualifying offer from Boston in order to test free agency, so he is attached to draft pick compensation.

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.