About half of the league had representatives on hand to watch Shohei Otani pitch for the Nippon Ham Fighters in the Japan Pacific League on Thursday, the Kyodo News reports. Yankees GM Brian Cashman was among the reps scouting Otani. Others, according to Ken Rosenthal, included the Diamondbacks, Orioles, Red Sox, Cubs, Reds, Indians, Dodgers, Pirates, Mariners, Rangers, Blue Jays, and Nationals, as well as the Padres and Rays.
Otani went 3 1/3 innings, yielding four runs on three hits and three walks with four strikeouts. It’s only his second start of the season, as he has been battling some injuries. Known for being a two-way player, Otani is hitting .342/.402/.548 with five home runs and 22 RBI in 164 plate appearances on the season.
Jon Morosi reports that those within the industry have “increasing confidence” that Otani will play in Major League Baseball next year. Of course, he’ll be subject to the league’s international spending limit. Jake Arrieta and Yu Darvish headline an otherwise underwhelming group of free agent starters, which will likely help increase interest in Otani.
Arizona Diamondbacks right fielder Steven Souza dove for a ball in a spring training game last night, missed, and ended up injuring his right shoulder.
It looked bad, too. Center fielder Jarrod Dyson stood over him, frantically waving to the dugout for a trainer as Souza kicked his legs in apparent pain. Souza held his arms awkwardly as he walked off the field. At the moment the Dbacks are calling it a right shoulder strain, but he’ll get an MRI on it today after which a more specific diagnosis will come.
If Souza is out for a while it’s a pretty big blow to Arizona’s 2018 plan. Souza was acquired to help cushion the blow of losing J.D. Martinez in free agency. While not the hitter Martinez is, Souza hit 30 homers in Tampa Bay last year, stood likely to at least match that in the more hitter-friendly confines of Chase Field and, of course, plays superior defense.
Potential replacements for Souza include moving David Peralta from left to right and inserting Yasmany Tomas in left or having fourth outfielder Dyson, or perhaps a platoon of Dyson and utilityman Chris Owings, handle right. Socrates Brito is another internal option.
Obviously the Snakes will wait to hear the results of the MRI before going too deeply into replacement plans, all the while hoping that Souza’s injury is far less serious than it appeared to be last night.