Yasiel Puig
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Reds, Cubs benches clear after Pedro Strop plunks Yasiel Puig

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Things got a bit testy during the last few innings of the Cubs’ 6-0 win over the Reds on Saturday, culminating in a benches-clearing face-off between Cubs reliever Pedro Strop and Reds outfielder Yasiel Puig.

In the bottom of the eighth, Strop stepped in for Steve Cishek to preserve the Cubs’ five-run lead. With two outs and zero runners on, he allowed a double to Eugenio Suárez, then hit Puig in the thigh with a 93.7-m.p.h. fastball. Puig stomped toward the mound to exchange words with Strop, flipping his bat and chucking his helmet before he reached the pitcher. He was restrained by Chicago backstop Willson Contreras and home plate umpire Mark Wegner, but the both Puig and Strop continued to jaw at each other until their teams’ respective benches and bullpens had emptied around them.

It was a fruitless fight; warnings were issued and both sides seemed to respect the umpires’ directives, at least to the extent that no ejections were deemed necessary.

In the ninth, however, tempers flared again after Dillon Maples plunked José Peraza. Reds manager David Bell emerged from the dugout to question the decision not to eject Maples but, instead of Maples, was ejected from the game himself. Any further disputes were soon tabled as the Cubs wrapped up their 6-0 win following Curt Casali‘s three-pitch swinging strikeout.

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

Shohei Ohtani
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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.

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