Jhoulys Chacin
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Twins sign Jhoulys Chacin to minor league deal

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Right-handed starter Jhoulys Chacin is signing with the Minnesota Twins, according to Jon Heyman and Robert Murray. Heyman reports that it will be a minor league deal, but that Chacin is expected to make the team.

Chacin, 35, spent a rough 2019 with the Brewers and the Red Sox. The new super-ball was unkind to him. He posted an ugly 6.01 ERA over 103.1 innings, largely fueled by a decline in ground ball rate and a stunning 21% of his fly balls leaving the yard, as well as a slight increase in walks. That came on the heels of two strong campaigns with the Padres and Milwaukee, so the Twins are hoping that Chacin can return to form and provide some innings in the back of their rotation.

Minnesota has already added Homer Bailey and Rich Hill to their starting mix this offseason, in addition to bringing back the resurgent Michael Pineda. Hill will likely start the season on the IL and Pineda has the remainder of a PED suspension to serve, so Rocco Baldelli’s club will take all the innings Chacin can give them. Chacin will be contending with hurlers like Randy Dobnak, Devin Smeltzer, Brusdar Graterol (a top prospect who may wind up in the bullpen) and Lewis Thorpe for a job in camp.

All in all, it’s a solid upside play for Minnesota. If Chacin can recapture what he had in 2017 and 2018, great. If not, he’s a decent swingman option, or they could simply cut bait and go to one of their depth guys. The big pitching acquisition many Twins fans were hoping for never materialized, but this is one of those little moves that smart teams make. You can do a lot worse for a non-roster invitee lottery ticket than Chacin.

Note: An earlier version of this article said that Chacin is left-handed. Obviously, he is right-handed. Nick will be sent to bed without dessert.

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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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