Getty Images

Ryan Braun could play first and second base in 2018

20 Comments

Given the recent additions of Lorenzo Cain and Christian Yelich, the Brewers are looking at a fairly crowded outfield as they gear up for the 2018 season. One solution, according to club GM David Stearns, might be to shift veteran left fielder Ryan Braun to the infield. It’s not a new idea — speculation that Braun could see time at first base surfaced as early as October — but one that seems to have gained more traction this weekend, as Braun is apparently also considering trying his glove at second base:

It’s probably worth noting that Braun hasn’t played middle infield since college, and he hasn’t seen a major league infield (or a minor league one, for that matter) since his rookie season in 2007, the first and last time he played a full year at third base. He didn’t exactly take to it, finishing the year with the third-worst defensive rating in the league and 26 errors in 112 games — more than any third baseman had accumulated in a single season since Casey Blake’s 26-error run with the Indians in 2004.

While it’s not yet clear how serious the Brewers are about stashing Braun at second base, Stearns said Friday that he doesn’t envision Braun’s move to the infield as a permanent or full-time change. The most likely scenario still seems to be one in which Domingo Santana is traded, freeing up space for Braun to retain his position in the outfield, but the club doesn’t appear to be entertaining any serious offers just yet.

Maddon: Shohei Ohtani won’t pitch again for Angels this year

Shohei Ohtani
Getty Images
Leave a comment

Shohei Ohtani won’t pitch again this season for the Los Angeles Angels after straining his right forearm in his second start, manager Joe Maddon says.

Ohtani likely will return to the Angels’ lineup as their designated hitter this week, Maddon said Tuesday night before the club opened a road series against the Seattle Mariners.

The Angels’ stance on Ohtani is unsurprising after the club announced he had strained the flexor pronator mass near the elbow of his pitching arm. The two-way star’s recovery from the strain requires him to abstain from throwing for four to six weeks, which covers most of the shortened 2020 season.

“I’m not anticipating him pitching at all this year,” Maddon said. “Any kind of throwing program is going to be very conservative.”

Ohtani was injured Sunday in the second inning of his second start since returning to the mound following Tommy John surgery in late 2018. Ohtani issued five walks during the 42-pitch inning against the Houston Astros, with his velocity dropping later in the frame.

The arm injury is another obstacle in Ohtani’s path to becoming the majors’ first true two-way player in decades. He made 10 mound starts as a rookie in 2018 before injuring his elbow, but he served as the Angels’ regular designated hitter last season while recovering from Tommy John surgery.

Ohtani has pitched in only three games since June 2018, but the Angels still believe in Ohtani’s ability to be a two-way player, Maddon said.

“I’m seeing that he can,” Maddon said. “We’ve just got to get past the arm maladies and figure that out. But I’ve seen it. He’s just such a high-end arm, and we’ve seen what he can do in the batter’s box. Now maybe it might get to the point where he may choose to do one thing over the other and express that to us. I know he likes to hit. In my mind’s eye, he’s still going to be able to do this.”

The veteran manager believes Ohtani will benefit from a full spring training and a normal season. Ohtani wasn’t throwing at full strength for a starter when the coronavirus pandemic shut down spring training in March because he wasn’t expected to pitch until May as he returned from surgery.

“Going into a regular season with a normal number of starts and all the things that permit guys to be ready for a year, that’s what we need to see is some normalcy before you make that kind of determination,” Maddon said.

More AP MLB: https://apnews.com/MLB and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports