Bobby Parnell cleared for baseball activities

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Mets closer Bobby Parnell didn’t throw a pitch after July 30 last season due to a herniated disk which required surgery, but he appears on track to be ready for the start of 2014.

Adam Rubin of ESPN New York reports that Parnell has been fully cleared for baseball activities and plans to report to the Mets’ complex in Port St. Lucie next week to get started. While the 29-year-old lost around 30 pounds in the days following surgery, Rubin hears from one person who recently saw Parnell that “he looked terrific — toned, strong, limber.” That person probably wants to remain anonymous just to freak Parnell out a bit.

Parnell had some hiccups in his previous chances as a closer, but he thrived prior to the injury last year, posting a 2.16 ERA and 44/12 K/BB ratio over 50 innings while going 22-for-26 in save chances. He should be a lock for the job if healthy.

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.