East Notes: Sox, Ohtani, G. Torres, Hellickson, Realmuto, Mets

Angels phenom Shohei Ohtani will start against the Red Sox on Tuesday. If the Sox had their druthers, though, it would be the other way around, per Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald. Boston, like just about every other major league team, courted Ohtani during his brief foray into free agency over the winter. The club showed Ohtani a 25-minute video presentation that prominently featured former Red Sox starter/slugger Babe Ruth, the most successful two-way player of all-time, as a recruiting tool. Ohtani is aiming to make a Ruthian impact as both a pitcher and a hitter in the majors, and so far he’s thriving on both ends. The Red Sox would have given Ohtani the opportunity to capitalize on his unique talents, as Silverman details, though he eliminated them (and most other clubs) from the process pretty quickly. “€œI wish we were in a position where we could have tackled that challenge,” said president Dave Dombrowski. “€œWe liked him a great deal, we thought very highly of him. I thought he was a legitimate two-way player.”€ Silverman’s piece, which contains more quotes from Dombrowski and senior vice president of personnel Allard Baird (who scouted Ohtani extensively from 2012-17), is worth checking out in full.

More from the East Coast…

  • Right-hander Jeremy Hellickson could take the ball for the Nationals on Monday when they open a series against the division-rival Mets, Mark Zuckerman of MASNsports.com suggests. Righty A.J. Cole is penciled in at the moment, though signs are pointing to Hellickson making his Nats debut, Zuckerman explains. Promoting Hellickson, whom Washington signed to a minors deal before the season, would require the team to add him to its 40-man roster and jettison someone else. That wouldn’t be the out-of-options Cole, per Zuckerman, who expects him to move to the bullpen in the event of a Hellickson call-up. The 31-year-old Hellickson, a veteran of 197 starts, will earn a $2MM salary if he lands a spot with the Nats.
  • Manager Aaron Boone told Marc Carig of The Athletic and other reporters Sunday that it’s “possible,” albeit “not necessarily” probable, the Yankees will promote top prospect Gleyber Torres during the upcoming week. The Yankees would gain an extra year of control over the infielder by waiting until April 18 to promote him, though general manager Brian Cashman insisted during spring training that the team’s not concerned about that. Torres has made his case for a call-up at the Triple-A level since last year, having hit .333/.407/.496 in 135 plate appearances. If the 21-year-old does join the Yankees soon, he could be a factor at both second and third base.
  • The Marlins’ best player, catcher J.T. Realmuto, is closing in on his 2018 debut. Realmuto, out since late March with a lower back injury, could rejoin the Marlins at the start of their nine-game road trip Monday, manager Don Mattingly informed Steve Dorsey of MLB.com and other reporters. And third baseman Martin Prado is “progressing” in his recovery from a left hamstring strain, per Mattingly, who added that the veteran could begin a rehab assignment soon. Prado, like Realmuto, hasn’t played yet this season.
  • The Mets activated first baseman Dominic Smith from the DL on Sunday and optioned him to Triple-A Las Vegas, Tim Healey of Newsday tweets. The former top 100 prospect had been dealing with a strained quad since the outset of spring training, thus putting the kibosh on his chances of winning a job in camp. Smith, 22, is now behind Adrian Gonzalez, Wilmer Flores (and maybe others) in the Mets’ first base pecking order.

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