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Yankees to meet with Gerrit Cole, Stephen Strasburg this week

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Ken Rosenthal reports that the Yankees will meet with Gerrit Cole and Stephen Strasburg over the next two days.

Not a shock given that (a) the Yankees need starting pitching more than anything else; and (b) these are the two best pitchers available this year and, indeed, are two of the best in the game.

But don’t expect fireworks this week. The Yankees have played it slow in free agency in recent years, waiting desired candidates out and giving little public indication before making deals. Obviously Cole and Strasburg are much bigger players than those New York has courted recently, but Brian Cashman is unlikely to move too quickly or to allow a bunch of leaks to emerge from the Yankees’ offices before a deal is made. If a deal is made.

At the same time, Scott Boras represents both Cole and Strasburg and his m.o. is to wait out the market for as long as he can and to stir up as much interest — real or exaggerated — in his clients as the winter wears on. Given the Yankees’ needs and their deep pockets, he has to talk to New York whether his clients truly want to go there or if they’d rather both play elsewhere. And, for what it’s worth, there is a lot of reason to believe that both of his clients want to play on the west coast, even if that sort of thing is often overplayed and misreported during the hot stove season.

All of which is to say that, while this is interesting, it’s also likely pretty early in the Gerrit Cole/Stephen Strasburg Sweepstakes.

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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