Braves name David Hale their fourth starter

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The Braves have finalized their injury-depleted starting rotation and have named David Hale their fourth starter, Carroll Rogers of the Atlanta Journal Constitution reports. One through five, their rotation will be:

  • Julio Teheran
  • Ervin Santana
  • Alex Wood
  • David Hale
  • Aaron Harang

Teheran will start on Opening Day, March 31, in Milwaukee against Brewers starter Yovani Gallardo. Newcomer Ervin Santana is expected to make his Braves debut in the second week of the season.

The Braves currently have three starting pitchers on the disabled list. Mike Minor went on the disabled list retroactive to March 21 with a shoulder injury and is expected to return towards the end of April. Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy will both miss the entire 2014 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery.

Despite the injuries, the Braves are still expected to give the Nationals a run for their money in the NL East.

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.