MRI shows biceps strain, no structural damage, for Nationals starter Jordan Zimmermann

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Via Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com

The Nationals don’t believe Jordan Zimmermann will need to spend any time on the disabled list after an MRI of his right arm taken Saturday revealed only a biceps strain, no structural damage.

“I didn’t think it was bad, anything serious,” the right-hander told reporters Saturday night. “The MRI came back and looked pretty good. A little inflammation. Give it rest for a few days and go home and come back and start throwing on Thursday again.”

Zimmermann left his start Friday evening against the Phillies with was originally called a biceps cramp. He’ll return to his home in Auburndale, Wisconsin rather than attend the 2014 All-Star Game in Minneapolis, with Marlins starter Henderson Alvarez filling the vacancy on the National League pitching staff.

Zimmermann finished the first half with a 3.03 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, and 101/20 K/BB ratio in 113 innings.

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.