Orioles sign Nationals castoff Luis Ayala

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Released by the Nationals yesterday, veteran reliever Luis Ayala has already found a new home with the Orioles, according to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com.

Ayala is 35 years old, averaged under 90 miles per hour with his fastball last season, and has never topped 6.5 strikeouts per nine innings in his career, but his ERAs the past three seasons have been 3.27, 2.64, and 2.09

Worst-case he’s merely a depth pickup to stash at Triple-A, but he certainly looks capable of helping in a middle-relief role and pitched well for the Orioles in 2012 with a 2.64 ERA and 51/14 K/BB ratio in 75 innings.

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.