What’s the point of a mound visit?

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The most famous mound visit in history was Robert Wuhl’s “candlesticks” mound visit in “Bull Durham.” But according to Dirk Hayhurst, it’s not necessarily overly-exaggerated. Given how little time a manager or a pitching coach has to say to a pitcher in trouble, and given how few things a pitcher can actually adjust on the fly, sometimes those visits are more about getting the pitcher out of his own head than anything else:

Sometimes a coach will make the walk out, ask you about how your girlfriend is in the sack and then stand there while you giggle, saying nothing about pitching at all. Sometimes he’ll come out and just stare at you, waiting for the umpire to show up so he can rip him a new one over how bad his zone is . . . The best coaches know their players’ personalities, what motivates or defeats them.

It’s a great column on a art form not many of us know anything about. And a great argument for putting microphones on pitching coaches. Do that, throw a five second delay on it for the F-bombs and you have vastly increased the entertainment factor of a broadcast.

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.