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OC Register: Q&A with Angels beat writer Jeff Fletcher: When should Shohei Ohtani pitch?

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During the Angels’ off day Monday, we hosted a Q&A on our Facebook page. Fans were mostly satisfied with the team’s 13-3 start, but there were still plenty of issues, and some concerns about the pitching in the long term. Here are some of the questions.

Q: For the most part, everything is going right for the Angels, but there is no denying the teams weakness is their bullpen. What are some of the options Billy Eppler may have to improve it? Any decent SP or BP arms still available that might be worth it for the BP? -Jim Barger

A: Kelvin Herrera and Alex Colome, off the top of my head, are probably the most established closers whose teams are likely to be sellers in the summer. Those guys won’t be available before June, though. As for starters, they could try for guys like Michael Fulmer or Julio Teheran, but also not till June. And all of those guys would cost good prospects. I don’t see the Angels being desperate enough to pick up scrap-heap guys who are available now.

Q: If you think the Angels’ front office could schedule the day of the week Shohei Ohtani would pitch (assuming it will be once a week all season), which day would you think they would pick and why? -Gregory Bird

A: Probably Sunday, Tuesday, Wednesday or Friday. Those are the days that they are (almost) never off, but they often have off days before or after them. That way they keep the option to have him hit as often as possible. Right now, they aren’t using him to hit the day before or after he pitches.

Q: Don’t get me wrong I’m happy we are winning and very optimistic about the now. But what do you give the odds on a Mike Trout extension and when if so? We can’t let him taste free agency. -Tim Walls

A: I am sure the Angels will have discussions with Trout about an extension, but probably not until next year, at the earliest. I assume Trout wouldn’t even want to do anything until he sees what next winter’s free agent class does for his market value.

Q: Have the Angels looked into not having a DH when Ohtani pitches? That way they can get his bat in the lineup too when he pitches? -Andrew Munoz

A: The problem with that is they would still have their pitcher in the lineup after he’s out of the game. Ohtani rarely hit when he pitched in Japan. I think he’s more comfortable focusing on one at a time. He may pitch in Colorado in early May, and he’d obviously hit in that game.

Q: Who hits more bombs in BP, Trout or Ohtani??? -Garrett Micah Brock

A: I can’t say that I’ve counted. In Texas I saw Ohtani hit one off a roof deep in center field. I asked assistant hitting coach Paul Sorrento if he’d ever seen anyone hit a ball there. He said only Trout.

Q:  Is Keynan Middleton our “closer” now? Haven’t seen any official pronouncement from the team (not that Mike Scioscia would make one). -Gabe Bowne

A: He seems to be the top choice at the moment. Don’t expect Scioscia to name him the “closer,” though. He likes to keep his options open.

Q: I know were only beginning this season, but could we realistically make a run at Manny Machado this offseason if he’s willing to move back to 3B? I see Ian Kinsler as a one year stop gap option, so we could just shift Zack Cozart to 2B next year. -Rob Aspinall

A: I can’t answer that. I believe Machado probably wants to play shortstop though. So the Angels would not be the best fit for him.

Q: In our pitching staff (especially in the bullpen), who has options? -Juanjo Rios.

A: Middleton is the only reliever currently on the roster who can be optioned. When the Angels need a 6th starter later this week, they may have to make a tough roster move. Andrew Heaney, Nick Tropeano, Tyler Skaggs and Ohtani all have options.

Q: David Fletcher has been tearing it up in SLC do you think he will get a call up to the big leagues during the season? -Zack Hatt

A: I think he’ll be up at some point, but maybe not till September. Barring injury, there’s no place for him to play in the majors. He’s better off playing every day at AAA.

Q: If Scioscia pinch hits for Martin Maldonado, and Rene Rivera tries to finish the rest of the game but gets hurt, who is the emergency catcher? -Jeff Mays

A: That’s a good question. It used to be CJ Cron. Of the current players, I’d guess Luis Valbuena? Maybe Jefry Marte.

Q: Without causing too much angst, what’s your choice? In-N-Out, Whataburger, Five Guys or other? -Stuart Matthews

A: Whataburger is probably the best in that group. But you can’t go wrong with In n Out. I haven’t had Five Guys more than a couple times.


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