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Olney: Teams could utilize a four-man outfield soon


On the heels of the stats revolution that popularized the use of the infield shift, ESPN’s Buster Olney thinks teams could soon utilize a four-man outfield in certain situations. According to Olney, some evaluators have considered the possibility as a means to curtail big innings in high-leverage situations.

Olney goes through several scenarios, suggesting that it would take a confluence of factors to make a team resort to a four-man outfield: the pitcher would need to be prone to giving up fly balls, the batter would need to be prone to hitting fly balls to his pull side, and it would likely have to be in a two-out situation.

Many scoffed when teams began implementing shifts on a regular basis, suggesting that teams were overthinking. I’d imagine many of the same people will scoff at the idea of a four-man outfield. I’m with Olney, though, in thinking that it very well could become a part of teams’ defensive¬†arsenals.

That being said, the idea of a four-man outfield isn’t new. As Olney notes, then-Rays manager Joe Maddon utilized a four-man outfield against noted sluggers David Ortiz and Jim Thome. It hasn’t been used much since then, however.

Jharel Cotton to undergo Tommy John surgery

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Athletics right-hander Jharel Cotton will undergo Tommy John surgery, per an announcement on Saturday. Cotton initially experienced some elbow soreness during a Cactus League start earlier this week and was officially diagnosed with a strained ulnar collateral ligament and strained flexor muscle on Thursday. He’ll be out of commission until 2019 at the earliest.

This isn’t the first time Cotton has dealt with elbow issues. According to MLB.com’s Jane Lee, he had screws inserted in his right elbow after sustaining a stress fracture in 2013 and suffered some minor elbow discomfort again last fall. Prior to his diagnosis, the 26-year-old was poised for his third run with the A’s in 2018. He pitched his first full season with the club in 2017, turning in a 5.58 ERA, 3.7 BB/9 and 7.3 SO/9 in 24 starts and 129 innings.

Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle adds that the team is open to adding pitching depth this spring, though they’ll wait to see if the price goes down on some free agents first. Barring that, right-handed long reliever Andrew Triggs could be tabbed to fill the fifth spot in the rotation.