Potent quotables: 'Hang close'

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“It’s not been an easy road. Our goal is to hang
close. We want to catch them. We’ve got some pretty tough guys out
there in the clubhouse and we want to catch [the Tigers]. You have to
grind it out and keep playing.”




– Twins manager Ron Gardenhire after the Twins moved to within 2 1/2 games of the idle Tigers
with a 7-0 victory over the White Sox on Monday night. The Twins hope
to stick close with a four-game series against the AL Central leaders
next week.



“I’ve got two more starts, and that’s all I can concern myself with is
one pitch, one inning at a time. I know that sounds cliche … It’s been a tough year, and
I haven’t been able to get anything going. … I’m looking forward to
have two more starts and if you want to use the word ‘salvage,’ then
that probably fits well.”




– Kyle Lohse would love to join his teammates on the postseason roster.
He allowed three runs over six innings as the Cardinals moved their
magic number to three with a 7-3 win over the Astros on Monday night.




“We have a lot of the base we need for a winning team, a playoff team,
a World Series team. For years to come, we have great
players and great camaraderie. I think this team is on an upswing.”




– Barry Zito, as the Giants moved to within four games of the idle-Rockies
in the Wild Card race with a 5-4 win over the Diamondbacks on Monday
night. The playoffs are starting to long like a longshot, but at the
very least, the Giants have clinched their first non-losing season
since 2004.




“It seems like we’ve been on sort of a gradual downward spiral since we
made it to the World Series (in 2005), and I think you can’t just point
to one thing. There are several
factors involved in that. If there was ever an environment for sweeping
reform or change, this would be it.”




– Lance Berkman, who finds his team on the opposite end of the spectrum of the Giants. Third base coach Dave Clark was promoted to interim manager following the dismissal of Cecil Cooper on Monday.

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.