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Giants sign ear-biting catcher Miguel Olivo to minor league contract

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The last we heard from Miguel Olivo around these parts, he was being released from the Dodgers after biting off a chunk of Alex Guerrero‘s ear during a nasty dugout brawl at Triple-A Albuquerque. That was in early-2014.

Olivo spent the 2015 season with the Toros de Tijuana of the Mexican League and performed quite well, slashing .281/.347/.472 with 14 home runs and 56 RBI in 90 games. The veteran catcher, never known for his speed, even stole 13 bases.

Now he is back with an MLB affiliate.

Matt Eddy of Baseball America reports that Olivo has agreed to a minor league contract with the San Francisco Giants. He’ll presumably open the 2016 campaign at Triple-A Sacramento, where he will operate as organizational depth at the catcher position. It’s doubtful he’ll get the call up at any point.

Olivo, 37, stands as a .240/.275/.417 career hitter in 1,124 major league games.

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.