Piniella announces Cubs batting order with Byrd fifth, Soriano sixth

Leave a comment

Speaking at the annual Cubs convention over the weekend, manager Lou Piniella revealed that new center fielder Marlon Byrd has been penciled into the No. 5 spot in the batting order and Alfonso Soriano will remain in the No. 6 spot that he filled during the second half of last season.
Soriano spent his first two-and-a-half seasons with the Cubs batting almost exclusively leadoff, but was never a particularly good fit there. Not only is he a high-strikeout free-swinger with a sub par .328 career on-base percentage, batting atop the lineup limited his RBI chances and often wasted Soriano’s power. He’s a better fit in the sixth spot, but my guess is that he’ll eventually end up hitting fifth behind Derrek Lee and Aramis Ramirez while Byrd slides down in the order.
Signed to a three-year, $15 million deal last month, Byrd has hit fifth in 18 percent of his career starts and saw plenty of action there for the Rangers. However, in three years with Texas he hit a modest .281/.328/.414 away from the Rangers’ offense-boosting home ballpark and prior to 2009 his career-high was 10 homers. Signing the 32-year-old Byrd to a three-year deal with the expectation that he’ll be a good defensive center fielder and productive No. 5 hitter for the life of the contract is going to leave the Cubs disappointed.

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)
Stephen Dunn/Getty Images
1 Comment

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)
Elsa/Getty Images
Leave a comment

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.