Though the Angels elected not to use Shohei Ohtani as a pinch-hitter late in Saturday night’s game due to the fact that he was slated to start on Sunday, manager Mike Scioscia suggested yesterday that the team could eventually work to get Ohtani’s bat into the game more often (via Jeff Miller of the L.A. Times). Scioscia called the team’s template for using Ohtani “conservative” but added that the Angels could eventually loosen some constraints on the two-way star’s usage. Scioscia also acknowledged that the team has even considered forgoing the designated hitter on days when Ohtani pitches in American League stadiums, though as Miller notes, that could present problems for a team with a thin bench. “It would take an extreme, you know, something you might consider in September, if it was something that was really critical and you needed his bat in the lineup,” said the manager.
More from the game’s Western divisions…
- While the loss of Robinson Cano due to a broken hand is a significant blow, the bullpen may be the Mariners’ primary focus when searching for upgrades, writes Bob Dutton for KLAY 1180 AM. Cano figures to be back this summer, and while the rotation has hardly been effective, it’s more difficult to add high-end starting pitching upgrades around the deadline than it is to add relief arms, Dutton notes. Seattle would be hard-pressed to outbid other teams for a top-of-the-rotation arm, and club officials have acknowledged to Dutton that targeting relief help is a likelier course of action. Juan Nicasio has completely melted down over his past couple appearances after a dominant start to the season, while Nick Vincent hasn’t been as effective as he has in recent seasons, either.
- Ian Desmond’s struggles have become a glaring problem for the Rockies, writes Patrick Saunders of the Denver Post. However, manager Bud Black and the Colorado front office still believe the veteran will turn things around despite his .170/.213/.355 slash this season and his unsightly .244/.294/.369 line since coming to the Rockies in the 2016-17 offseason. Desmond’s problems are all the more concerning given the struggles of Ryan McMahon earlier this season, leaving the Rox with little in the way of in-house options. Saunders notes that talks between the Rockies and Mark Reynolds never really took off, though he suggests that if Reynolds loses his roster spot in Washington once Ryan Zimmerman returns, the two sides could again explore a fit. However, Saunders also hears from those within the organization that the team wouldn’t relegate Desmond to the bench in favor of Reynolds, which could make a return to Denver a tough sell.
- Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic spoke to Dave Roberts, Kenley Jansen, Chris Taylor and others about the Dodgers’ early struggles (subscription link). While the losses of Corey Seager, Justin Turner, Clayton Kershaw and Hyun-Jun Ryu have hurt the club immensely, Rosenthal also contends that the Dodgers’ approach this offseason didn’t do the team any favors. The Dodgers were known to be avoiding the luxury tax threshold — an important factor as they prepare for next offseason’s impressive free-agent class — and thus sought bargain options to replace quality contributors such as Brandon Morrow and Tony Watson (namely, signing Tom Koehler and acquiring Scott Alexander). Of course, it’s worth pointing out that Morrow and Watson were low-cost acquisitions themselves, and Rosenthal notes that the current front office has had success in building bullpens on the fly in the past. With Turner nearing a return and Kershaw expected to be out for weeks, rather than months (per Rosenthal), there’s help on the horizon, however, at a time when the division-leading D-backs are struggling with some of their own injury losses.