Tim Belcher named Indians' pitching coach

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The former Dodger (and six other teams’) pitcher is an Ohio native who has worked for the Tribe for several years now in one of those amorphous “special assistant” jobs. Mostly he’s been acting as a spring pitching coach, scout and traveling instructor.

His mission, which he has now accepted: (a) try to get Fausto Carmona back to 2007 form; and (b) try to turn David Huff, Jeremy Sowers and Aaron Laffey into something other than cannon fodder.

I’m not sure I like his odds of doing either, but Belcher was always a favorite of mine back in the day, so I hope he has some success in the role.

Shohei Ohtani medically cleared to begin a throwing progression

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The Angels released a medical update on P/DH Shohei Ohtani Thursday evening. Ohtani was reevaluated by Dr. Steve Yoon at the Kerlan Jobe Institute. The right-hander’s sprained UCL showed improved healing and, as a result, he has been cleared to begin a throwing progression.

Ohtani, 24, was diagnosed with a Grade 2 sprain of the ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow after his June 6 start against the Royals and hasn’t pitched since, though he has been in the lineup as a hitter since July 3. It was initially believed he would undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery. Then the thought was that Ohtani wouldn’t pitch again for the rest of the season, but this update suggests a possibility he could return to the mound before the season is over.

In nine starts, Ohtani put together a 3.10 ERA with a 61/20 K/BB ratio in 49 1/3 innings. As a hitter, he batted .283/.365/.522 with seven home runs and 22 RBI in 157 plate appearances.