Link-O-Rama: Mets fire Tony Bernazard

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* Mets vice president of player development Tony Bernazard learned the hard way this afternoon that adding to your long list of “incidents” by challenging a clubhouse full of minor leaguers to a fight while shirtless will get you fired. So, you know, let that be a lesson to everyone else. Keep your shirt on.

* Alex Rodriguez took his two daughters and girlfriend Kate Hudson to
the Yankees’ annual family picnic over the weekend, and then made out with one of them in front of the assembled media.

* Spencer Fordin of MLB.com reports
that 21-year-old Chris Tillman will make his MLB debut Wednesday
against Zack Greinke and the Royals. Tillman has made some big strides
with his control since coming to Baltimore in the Erik Bedard trade
with Seattle, and is now among the elite pitching prospects in
baseball.

* Boston has no plans to skip
John Smoltz in the rotation despite his 1-4 record and 7.04 ERA, which
is smart because both his raw stuff and 28/5 K/BB ratio in 30.2 innings
suggest that he’ll turn things around soon enough.

* Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle reports that Oakland recently turned down Minnesota’s offer for Orlando Cabrera, and in doing so they probably did the Twins a favor.

Maddon: Shohei Ohtani won’t pitch again for Angels this year

Shohei Ohtani
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Shohei Ohtani won’t pitch again this season for the Los Angeles Angels after straining his right forearm in his second start, manager Joe Maddon says.

Ohtani likely will return to the Angels’ lineup as their designated hitter this week, Maddon said Tuesday night before the club opened a road series against the Seattle Mariners.

The Angels’ stance on Ohtani is unsurprising after the club announced he had strained the flexor pronator mass near the elbow of his pitching arm. The two-way star’s recovery from the strain requires him to abstain from throwing for four to six weeks, which covers most of the shortened 2020 season.

“I’m not anticipating him pitching at all this year,” Maddon said. “Any kind of throwing program is going to be very conservative.”

Ohtani was injured Sunday in the second inning of his second start since returning to the mound following Tommy John surgery in late 2018. Ohtani issued five walks during the 42-pitch inning against the Houston Astros, with his velocity dropping later in the frame.

The arm injury is another obstacle in Ohtani’s path to becoming the majors’ first true two-way player in decades. He made 10 mound starts as a rookie in 2018 before injuring his elbow, but he served as the Angels’ regular designated hitter last season while recovering from Tommy John surgery.

Ohtani has pitched in only three games since June 2018, but the Angels still believe in Ohtani’s ability to be a two-way player, Maddon said.

“I’m seeing that he can,” Maddon said. “We’ve just got to get past the arm maladies and figure that out. But I’ve seen it. He’s just such a high-end arm, and we’ve seen what he can do in the batter’s box. Now maybe it might get to the point where he may choose to do one thing over the other and express that to us. I know he likes to hit. In my mind’s eye, he’s still going to be able to do this.”

The veteran manager believes Ohtani will benefit from a full spring training and a normal season. Ohtani wasn’t throwing at full strength for a starter when the coronavirus pandemic shut down spring training in March because he wasn’t expected to pitch until May as he returned from surgery.

“Going into a regular season with a normal number of starts and all the things that permit guys to be ready for a year, that’s what we need to see is some normalcy before you make that kind of determination,” Maddon said.

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