Marlins, Omar Infante working on contract extension

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Reinstalled as a regular for the first time since 2005, Omar Infante has spent most of the season as a pretty big disappointment for the Marlins.  Like Dan Uggla, the second baseman he was traded for over the winter, Infante got off to a horrible start, as the 2010 All-Star for the Braves hit just .251/.293/.309 during the first half.

Infante, though, has been an excellent regular since, batting .337/.379/.515 in 169 at-bats.  And now the Marlins want to keep him as they open their new ballpark next year, possibly in a multiyear deal, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro reports.

The 29-year-old Infante is making $2.5 million this year after having his club option picked up.  He’ll probably be looking to a raise to $4 million or so in order to agree to terms now.

Infante, though, does want to remain with the Marlins.  After years as a utilityman, he’s been allowed to find a home at second base in Miami.  Even though Infante has plenty of experience at shortstop, third base and the outfield — all places where the Marlins have been unsettled at times this year — Infante hasn’t played a game at any position other than second.

Infante isn’t as bad as he was in the first half or as good as he’s playing right now.  He’s an average regular at second base still in his prime, so a multiyear deal wouldn’t be such a bad thing.  At the same time, given that there’s always going to be cheap second basemen kicking around, it’s debatable whether the thrifty Marlins would be smart to commit something like $8 million to him for two years.  They’re already spending $45 million on five players next year, so Infante only makes sense if they’re willing to commit to a $70+ million payroll for 2012.

Shohei Ohtani no longer facing Masahiro Tanaka on Sunday at Yankee Stadium

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Shohei Ohtani has essentially become the Angels’ designated Sunday starting pitcher, but Angels manager Mike Scioscia announced Thursday morning that the 23-year-old two-way Japanese star will be skipped in the rotation this weekend at Yankee Stadium for “workload management” purposes.

Ohtani is fine to continue hitting, so there’s no sense of any physical ailment.

This decision will rob us — and the Japanese media — of a showdown between Ohtani and countrymate Masahiro Tanaka. And for that we are rather devastated, but you can understand the Angels’ concerns about overuse.

Ohtani has registered a 3.35 ERA, 1.066 WHIP, and 52/14 K/BB ratio through his first 40 1/3 innings (seven starts) as a major league pitcher and he’s slashing .308/.364/.582 with six home runs and 19 RBI in 26 games as a part-time DH.