The reinforcements are coming. On Tuesday, the Angels announced the activation of P/DH Shohei Ohtani, infielder Zack Cozart, and reliever Cody Allen from the injured list. To make room on the 25-man roster, the club designated outfielder Peter Bourjos and pitcher Chris Stratton for assignment and optioned infielder Luis Rengifo to Triple-A Salt Lake.
The big news here, of course, is the return of Ohtani. He underwent Tommy John surgery at the conclusion of the 2018 season and will not be able to pitch until 2020, so he will return strictly as a designated hitter. Ohtani won the AL Rookie of the Year Award last year, batting .285/.361/.564 with 22 home runs, 61 RBI, 59 runs scored, and 10 stolen bases in 367 plate appearances. As a pitcher, he posted a 3.31 ERA with 63 strikeouts and 22 walks in 51 2/3 innings. Truly one of the most dynamic seasons of all time. Ohtani is in Tuesday’s starting lineup against the Tigers batting third behind Mike Trout.
Cozart, 33, landed on the IL with a strained neck. He was hitting a paltry .109/.157/.125 across 70 trips to the plate. David Fletcher and Tommy La Stella handled third base in his absence.
Allen, 30, struggled in 11 appearances before being sidelined with a lumbar spine strain. He yielded six runs on seven hits and 10 walks with 11 strikeouts in nine innings of work. The Angels will likely ease him back into action by using him in lower-leverage situations first.
Robert Murray and MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reported earlier, respectively, that the Phillies signed pitcher Francisco Liriano and infielder Neil Walker to minor league contracts. If he makes the major league roster, Liriano will earn a salary of $1.5 million with an additional $1.25 million available through performance incentives. Walker’s contract information is not yet known.
Liriano, 36, struggled from 2016-18 but enjoyed a productive year out of the bullpen for the Pirates this past season. He posted a 3.47 ERA with 63 strikeouts and 35 walks over 70 innings. The lefty was quite effective against same-handed batters, limiting fellow lefties to a .659 OPS. That would figure to be a key component if Liriano makes the Phillies’ Opening Day roster.
Walker, 34, hit .261/.344/.395 with eight home runs and 38 RBI over 381 plate appearances with the Marlins last year. The veteran is versastile, having played first, second, and third base along with both corner outfield spots in recent seasons. Despite Walker’s versatility, it is tough to see room on the Phillies’ roster for him, barring injuries to other players. It never hurts to have depth.