What else could it be?
Clayton Kershaw walked three batters in the third and gave up five runs Monday against the A’s. Sam Fuld and Nick Punto, of all people, did the damage against him. Last week, he allowed three runs and five hits in two innings against the Diamondbacks, so after two spring outings, he’s currently sporting an 18.00 ERA.
All of this comes after Kershaw struck out on the FOX sitcom “New Girl” last month, getting quickly rebuffed after identifying himself and hitting on Zooey Deschanel’s character in the show. Nothing since has worked out right for him.
Kershaw admitted after Monday’s game that he had no explanation for his struggles: “The first two innings it felt like most things were working. In the third inning obviously nothing was working. I don’t know. If I knew, I would have fixed it.”
But we know what’s wrong. It’s obvious. And the curse won’t be lifted until after Kershaw guest stars on an NBC offering, perhaps About A Boy (Tuesday’s 9 pm ET, 8 pm CT).
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.