There’s little that Nippon Ham Fighters’ right-hander Shohei Otani can’t do.
He can pitch, as evidenced by three record-breaking pitches in high school and the Nippon Professional Baseball league and a monster 2016 season that saw a 1.86 ERA, 174 strikeouts, and a 3.87 K/BB in 140 innings.
He can hit, as demonstrated by a career .275/.347/.491 batting line, replete with 40 home runs and an .838 OPS in four seasons with the Fighters.
He can command top-tier salaries from MLB teams, according to the New York Post’s Joel Sherman, who estimates offers in the $200-300 million range when the 22-year-old makes his long-anticipated jump to the MLB circuit in the next year or two.
And, thanks to the unique structure of the Tokyo Dome, he can also make baseballs disappear.
During the seventh inning of an exhibition game against the Netherlands on Sunday, Otani muscled a fly ball that vanished among the paneled roof of the Tokyo Dome. A hush fell over the crowd as officials and teammates tried to figure out exactly where the ball was lodged, watching as Otani rounded the bases for a home run. After some deliberation, the umpires rescinded the scoring change and called the hit a ground-rule double.
The full video is below:
Tigers’ center fielder Anthony Gose wants to try his hand at pitching, according to comments made by manager Brad Ausmus on Sunday. Gose is poised to start the year in Triple-A Toledo after receiving a midseason demotion to Double-A last summer following an altercation with Triple-A manager Lloyd McClendon.
While the experiment won’t detract from Gose’s outfield work in Triple-A, the 26-year-old is expected to take on additional bullpen sessions throughout the year. According to MLB.com’s Jason Beck, the left-handed hitter last took the mound in high school, where his fastball was clocked as fast as 97 m.p.h. Gose ultimately rejected the idea of starting his professional career as a pitcher, despite receiving favorable assessments from scouts.
Ausmus said the idea first surfaced at the end of the 2016 season. It appears to be a fallback option for the outfielder, who has struggled at the plate over his five-year career in the majors. Via Chris McCosky of the Detroit News:
Doolittle in Oakland did it and he was in the big leagues a couple of years later,” Ausmus said. “It’s going to take some time. He’s going to have to be a sponge and catch up on experience fast. But we feel it’s worth investigating.
Nationals’ right-hander Stephen Strasburg will take the mound for the club on Opening Day, manager Dusty Baker said on Sunday. The news is hardly surprising given Max Scherzer’s questionable status this spring, though it had yet to be confirmed by the club.
Strasburg is approaching his eighth run with the club in 2017. He went 15-4 in 2016, finishing the year with a 3.60 ERA, 2.7 BB/9 and 11.2 SO/9 in 147 2/3 innings. This will mark his fourth Opening Day assignment with the Nationals.
Scherzer, the Nationals’ Opening Day starter in both 2015 and 2016, is scheduled to make his season debut sometime during the first week of the season. The right-hander is expected to take things more slowly this spring as he finishes rehabbing a stress fracture in his finger.
The Nationals will open their season against the Marlins on April 3.