Japanese pitcher/hitter Shohei Otani is expected to miss up to six weeks with a thigh muscle strain, the Associated Press reported on Sunday. Otani injured his left thigh during the Nippon Ham Fighters’ game on Saturday when he tried to leg out a single.
This is the second significant injury Otani has sustained this year after rehabbing an injured ankle in February. He has yet to pitch for the Nippon Ham Fighters in 2017, and, according to the report, is expected to increase his focus on batting this season.
Otani’s prowess as the best pitcher and one of the best hitters in NPB is well-documented, and he told 60 Minutes that he intends to sign with an MLB club after the 2017 season. Due to international spending caps that kicked in with the latest collective bargaining agreement, Otani’s signing bonus would likely fall between $4.75 and 10 million, a bargain for any major league suitor given the 22-year-old’s versatility and breathtaking success in Japan.
Newsday’s Marc Carig reports that the Mets may move Asdrubal Cabrera to second base when he returns from the disabled list. Cabrera has been on the disabled list since June 13 with a sprained left thumb, but he’s expected to be activated on Friday.
Cabrera, 31, last played second base in 2014 with the Nationals. He has played shortstop exclusively as a Met the last two seasons. Jose Reyes would continue to play shortstop if the Mets were to go through with the position change. Cabrera would displace T.J. Rivera, who has been playing second base in place of the injured Neil Walker.
In 196 plate appearances this season, Cabrera is hitting .244/.321/.392 with six home runs and 20 RBI. He has made 11 defensive errors, which is tied for the third-most among shortstops behind Tim Anderson (16) and Dansby Swanson (12).
Brewers closer Corey Knebel set a modern major league record for relievers to start a season, as Thursday’s appearance marked his 38th consecutive appearance with a strikeout. He set down the side in order in the ninth inning, striking Josh Bell out to start the frame.
Aroldis Chapman held the record previously, recording a strikeout in his first 37 appearances of the season in 2014 with the Reds.
Knebel, 25, has flown under the radar despite having an incredibly good season. He moved into the closer’s role in mid-May when Neftali Feliz, now a free agent, struggled. After Thursday’s appearance, Knebel is 12-for-15 in save chances with a 0.96 ERA and a 65/17 K/BB ratio in 37 2/3 innings.