While rehabbing an ankle injury left-hander Joe Saunders made it clear that he only wants to rejoin the Rangers as a starter, so in the meantime Texas has called up a different veteran starter to work out of the bullpen.
T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com reports that right-hander Scott Baker will work a long relief role for the Rangers after making six starts with a 3.32 ERA and 30/11 K/BB ratio in 38 innings at Triple-A.
Baker was once a solid mid-rotation starter for the Twins, but he’s struggled to come back from Tommy John elbow surgery that cost him all of 2012 and most of 2013. Baker has made just four career relief appearances.
Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic reports that the Pirates have decided to convert outfielder JB Shuck into a two-way player. Recent comments relayed from the club’s director of player development, Larry Broadway, indicated that the outfielder would be coached in developing his pitching skills while working at Triple-A Indianapolis.
Per Broadway, the change would be enacted to help the veteran outfielder develop some much-needed versatility in the majors, where he’s only ever been limited to outfield and DH responsibilities. Well, except for the two games in which he pitched an inning of relief: once, against the Nationals in a blowout 11-4 loss in 2016, then in a similarly painful loss to the Diamondbacks this past April. During the latter outing, he finished the game with a 13-pitch ninth inning after allowing just one hit and one walk.
Add to that one minor-league outing in 2012, and the 31-year-old Shuck has pitched just three times over the course of his 12-season career in pro ball. While he has three years of experience on the mound from his college days, he’ll need quite a bit of preparation to handle the kind of workload expected from a two-way outfielder/reliever: 20+ innings pitched over a season and 20+ games played as a designated hitter or position player.
Still, his lack of experience doesn’t seem to faze Broadway, at least not this early in the process. There’s no word yet on how soon Shuck would be expected to debut his new skillset on a major-league level.