Orioles homer barrage Wednesday's highlight

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Rhyne Hughes and Josh Bell, who could be the corner infielders for Baltimore’s Triple-A Norfolk affiliate this year, had two-homer games in a 12-2 win over the Rays.
With the wind blowing out to left at 15 mph, Nick Markakis and Tampa Bay’s Sean Rodriguez also homered in the contest.
Hughes and Bell were blocked by the Orioles’ signings of Garrett Atkins and Miguel Tejada over the winter, but Hughes is a marginal talent anyway and Bell could use at least a half-season in Triple-A. Though his defensive rep is rather shaky, Bell is one of the AL’s best prospects.
Also from Wednesday:
– Ramiro Pena hit a solo homer and Collin Curtis delivered a walkoff shot in the bottom of the ninth as the Yankees prevailed over the Pirates 6-3.
– Tim Lincecum struggled, surrendering three runs — two earned — in an inning, but the Giants bounced back to beat the Mariners 8-7 in 10 innings.
– The Tigers beat the Blue Jays 7-6 behind a strong start from rotation hopeful Jeremy Bonderman.
Also notable in that game was that Toronto’s Travis Snider started off the spring hitting ninth, even though the Jays were facing a right-hander.
– The Braves topped the Mets 9-5, yet Jason Heyward’s average fell to .667 with him settling for an RBI double and a walk in three plate appearances.

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.