Kendrick on fire since returning from minors

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Last night the Angels bounced back from Wednesday’s umpire-aided loss to the Red Sox, picking up a one-run win at Fenway Park thanks in large part to Howie Kendrick.
Kendrick homered off Josh Beckett early and then delivered a go-ahead single off Billy Wagner late, with embattled closer Brian Fuentes getting the final two outs for his MLB-leading 42nd save.
After hitting just .231/.281/.355 through 51 games Kendrick was demoted to Triple-A in mid-June despite being four seasons into his big-league career. He went 27-for-78 (.346) in 20 games at Triple-A, which is no surprise given his lifetime .360 batting average in 399 games as a minor leaguer, and has stayed hot since rejoining the Angels in July.
Kendrick is 58-for-153 (.379) with five homers and 11 doubles in 44 games since returning to the majors, bringing his batting average all the way up to .298. And despite managing just 21 homers and 40 non-intentional walks in 347 career games, Kendrick has shown that his amazing batting averages in the minors were no fluke by hitting .304 in 1,359 plate appearances.
Here’s the complete list of all the second basemen in baseball history with a higher batting average then Kendrick through the age of 25: Eddie Collins, Tony Lazzeri, Billy Herman, Dustin Pedroia, Rod Carew, Charlie Gehringer. That’s it, six guys. Five of them are in the Hall of Fame and the only one who isn’t was last season’s AL MVP.
Problems staying healthy and a lack of power or plate discipline makes it unlikely that Kendrick truly belongs in that company, but he has an awfully unique skill set that makes him one of the most interesting hitters in baseball to watch and has come up very big for the Angels in the second half.

Mets leaning on Jay Bruce, Neil Walker as Lucas Duda insurance

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MAY 12:  Pinch hitter Lucas Duda #21 of the New York Mets walks back to the dugout after striking out for the first out of the ninth inning against Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on May 12, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  The Dodgers won 5-0.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.

Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”

Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”

The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.

Jason Kipnis diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Jason Kipnis #22 of the Cleveland Indians celebrates after scoring a run on a wild pitch thrown by Jon Lester #34 of the Chicago Cubs (not pictured) during the fifth inning in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.

There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.

Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.