Reliever Koji Uehara says that he is open to considering offers from teams in Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball league, as the Japan Times recently reported. That’s something of a reversal from the 42-year-old reliever, who had indicated he did not intend to play again in his homeland. After preparing for the MLB season, but finding interest scant, Uehara now says he has changed his mind and would consider pitching once again in the NPB. It’s at least a bit surprising that Uehara has not generated more pursuers among major-league clubs. He continued to produce declining results in 43 innings last year, finishing with a 3.98 ERA, but still ended with 10.5 K/9 against 2.5 BB/9 and generated a strong 15.8% swinging-strike rate.
Here are a few more pitching notes from around the game:
- While it’s clear the Rangers intend to utilize new pitching addition Tim Lincecum in the bullpen, just how he’ll be deployed isn’t yet clear. Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram posted a video of the former ace discussing his new club. It seems that Lincecum is intrigued by the possibility of closing but is largely open to fitting in wherever the team prefers. “They see that,” Lincecum says of working in the 9th. “I feel like I could do that. I’ve done that in the Cape and at the college level. It’s going to be, obviously, different, but I feel like I could tap into that mentality.”
- The Rockies elected this offseason to make a number of bullpen additions but not to pursue outside acquisitions for the rotation. That decision was no doubt as much about the team’s assessment of its internal options as it was about a need to maximize resources. In a pair of articles, here and here, Nick Groke of the Denver Post reports on two key staff members. Antonio Senzatela is said to be hard at work on his secondary offerings, with a new change-up in the works alongside continuing work on a curve. Meanwhile, fellow young righty Jeff Hoffman dealing with a shoulder issue. There’s no indication its a serious injury, but Hoffman is still going to rest for at least a week or more before he resumes throwing. As things stand, the Rox may be lined up to utilize a five-man unit that does not include either of these hurlers, as the current Roster Resource depth chart projects, but both are important parts of the near-term and future picture in Colorado.
- When the Twins brought in righty Michael Kohn last fall, the hope was that he could rebound from a rotator cuff problem and get his career back on track. Unfortunately, he’ll now require an absence of four to six months to recuperate from a “nerve issue,” per Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer-Press (via Twitter). The 31-year-old Kohn has a 3.52 ERA in 115 career innings in the majors, though that has come with a 111:79 K/BB ratio. It’s hard to read much into his results last year, as they were mostly accumulated in the low minors, but Kohn was able to make it through 13 solid innings late in 2017, over which he racked up 18 strikeouts against just four walks while permitting two earned runs on eight hits.