Japanese star Shohei Otani is slated to pitch for the first time this year, per a report from the Japan Times. That’ll come in Japan’s NPB, not the majors, but nevertheless has importance on the other side of the globe. As Otani ponders a move to the big leagues after the current season, MLB clubs will be watching closely. He has been held out of pitching duties due to ankle and thigh injuries; Nippon Ham Fighters skipper Hideki Kuriyama says he’ll bring back Otani slowly as he “build[s] up his pitch counts.”
Here’s more on some health situations from around the game:
- It seems that the Giants will welcome back trade candidate Eduardo Nunez heading out of the break. He’s slated to start a brief rehab assignment tomorrow, Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle reports on Twitter; the organization has already optioned outfielder Mac Williamson to open a roster spot, as Alex Pavlovic of NBC Sports Bay Area tweets. While it remains to be seen how far San Francisco will go in dealing away veterans, Nunez is a pending free agent who would seem better utilized by a 2017 contender.
- Also nearing a return to the Giants is ace southpaw Madison Bumgarner. He just turned in six strong innings at the High-A level in what appears to be his final rehab start, as Martin Gallegos of the Bay Area News Group writes. It seems that Bumgarner will make it back after about a three-month layoff following a shoulder injury suffered in a dirtbike accident earlier this season. While he won’t factor directly in the trade deadline, Bumgarner’s health is an important factor in San Francisco’s long-term roster and budgeting. There have long been suggestions of possible talks on a new extension for the postseason hero, and those could take place later this year if Bumgarner shows he’s healthy.
- The Mets are set to begin welcoming back some dearly missed players, as Marc Carig of Newsday reports. That includes star righty Noah Syndergaard, who is going to pick up a ball again in about two weeks, and closer Jeurys Familia, who’ll do so over the All-Star break. It also includes former star righty Matt Harvey, whose future remains murky. Interesting, pitching coach Dan Warthen says that doctors found significant weakness in Harvey’s right shoulder muscles. The current focus is on “building that back up,” says Warthen, though at present it’s unclear just when Harvey might be expected back.