GM: Angels “making progress” on Erick Aybar extension

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During spring training the Angels signed second baseman Howie Hendick to a four-year, $33.5 million contract, but they couldn’t come to an agreement on a similar long-term deal with shortstop Erick Aybar.

However, the two sides didn’t stop talking when Opening Day arrived and general manager Jerry Dipoto told Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com that they’re “making progress” and “very confident that we’ll be able to get something done” with the impending free agent.

Dipoto revealed that the talks have been going on since way back in December, which is when Aybar avoided arbitration with a one-year, $5.075 million deal that covered his final season under team control.

Kendrick would have been eligible for free agency after the season as well, so $33.5 million and four years is seemingly a pretty decent baseline for Aybar’s deal. Judging from the lengthy negotiations, though, one side apparently doesn’t think so.

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.