Rafael Furcal to begin minor league rehab assignment tonight

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The Marlins signed veteran infielder Rafael Furcal over the winter with the idea of using him as their starting second baseman, but he suffered a left hamstring injury during spring training and was forced to begin the season on the disabled list. According to Joe Frisaro of MLB.com, he’ll begin his road back to the majors tonight when he starts a minor league rehab assignment with Class A Jupiter.

Furcal only got 18 at-bats during Grapefruit League play, so the Marlins plan to have him stay in the minors for the maximum allotment of 21 days. That would set him up to be activated on May 6 against the Mets. Derek Dietrich and Jeff Baker will continue to share playing time at second base until he’s ready.

Furcal, 36, missed all of last season following Tommy John surgery on his right elbow. He hit .264/.325/.346 with five home runs, 49 RBI, and 12 stolen bases in 121 games with the Cardinals in 2012.

Watch: Shohei Ohtani strikes out his first spring training batter

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Sure, spring training games don’t count toward anything “real,” but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy Angels’ star pitcher/hitter Shohei Ohtani mowing down his first big league competitors.

On Saturday, Ohtani took the mound against the Brewers for his first official outing in an Angels uniform. After allowing a leadoff double to Jonathan Villar, the 23-year-old righty settled down and issued a three-pitch strikeout to Nate Orf, his first of the spring.

It wasn’t the cleanest inning for the right-hander: the Brewers plated their first run on a walk, wild pitch and subsequent throwing error by catcher Martin Maldonado. Ohtani didn’t let things unravel further, however, and induced a pop-up for the second out before catching Brett Phillips looking on a called strike three to end the inning.

While the two-way phenom only lasted another two batters (a Keon Broxton dinger finished him off in the second), he’s already started to look like a formidable presence on the mound. Time will tell whether he can deliver at the plate as well — rumor has it he could feature in the Angels’ lineup as soon as Monday.