Sergio Romo plays third base in Yankees-Rays game

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Occasionally teams mess around with putting a relief pitcher in the outfield for a single batter and then bringing him back to the mound after the batter is retired. It’s not common, but it’s a way to achieve some better matchups without burning a pitcher. It’s different, the advantages are probably minimal in the grand scheme, but it’s innovative I suppose.

The Rays skew innovative, particularly with their relief pitcher use, and today they did something I haven’t seem before. They did the old switch-in-switch-out with a reliever, but rather than hide the reliever in left field, they put him at third base for a single at bat.

The pitcher was Sergio Romo. It looked like this:

There isn’t much more to show you because he didn’t get a chance to make a play. Still looks weird out there, though, right?

As for how it played out: Romo had finished the eighth inning on the mound. Lefty Greg Bird was leading off the ninth, so Rays manager Kevin Cash wanted a lefty to face him. Jonny Venters came in to face Bird, inducing a ground out. Then Romo got back on the mound. A couple of batters reached buy then Romo got Austin Romine to pop out and Brett Gardner to strike out. Rays win, Romo gets the save. I guess, in a way, he got a hold too, but they didn’t award him that. I guess you can’t get both a save and a hold? I dunno.

Anyway, modern baseball. It’s fantastic.

Shohei Ohtani agrees to $30 million deal for 2023 with Angels

Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports
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ANAHEIM, Calif. — Shohei Ohtani agreed to a $30 million deal with the Los Angeles Angels for the 2023 season in the two-way superstar’s final year of arbitration eligibility before free agency.

The Angels announced the deal, avoiding a potentially complicated arbitration case with the 2021 AL MVP.

Ohtani’s deal is fully guaranteed, with no other provisions. The contract is the largest ever given to an arbitration-eligible player, surpassing the $27 million given to Mookie Betts by the Boston Red Sox in January 2020, a month before he was traded to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Ohtani is having another incredible season at the plate and on the mound for the Angels, regularly accomplishing feats that haven’t occurred in the major leagues since Babe Ruth’s heyday. He is a strong contender for the AL MVP award again alongside the Yankees’ Aaron Judge, who has tied the AL home run record and is closing in on the batting Triple Crown.

Ohtani is batting .276 with 34 homers, 94 RBIs and a .888 OPS as the Halos’ designated hitter. He is 15-8 with a 2.35 ERA and 213 strikeouts as their ace on the mound, and opponents are batting only .207 against him.

The 28-year-old Ohtani still will be a free agent after the 2023 season, and his future could be tied to the immediate fortunes of the Angels, who will complete their seventh consecutive losing season next week. The Angels didn’t trade Ohtani at the deadline despite being out of the playoff race again, and Ohtani is wildly popular among the club’s fans.

Ohtani repeatedly has said winning will be an important factor in choosing his home beyond 2023, and Angels owner Arte Moreno is currently exploring a sale of the team.

Moreno’s leadership has been widely criticized during the Angels’ mostly miserable run of play since 2009, and a fresh start with deep-pocketed new owners could be the best chance to persuade Ohtani to stay with the franchise he joined in 2018 from Japan. Ohtani immediately won the AL Rookie of the Year award, and he rounded into unique form last season after recovering fully from Tommy John surgery.