Add Mets’ pitcher Mike Pelfrey to the list of this offseason’s biggest losers:
One week until Fat Tuesday, but Mike Pelfrey won’t be participating. The
Mets pitcher is prepared to arrive in camp next week some 25 pounds
lighter than last season and believes that will propel him to new
heights after a disappointing 2009.
“I was pretty upset with not
only how the team played, but with how I played last year, knowing
that’s not me,” Pelfrey told The Post yesterday. “I had a lost year. I
had a terrible year.”
A couple of years ago someone — I can’t remember who — did an analysis of how guys did in the seasons after “best shape of his life” articles appeared about him during the spring. I seem to recall that there actually was an uptick in performance among the newly-dedicated, albeit not a dramatic one. Enough to make me want to go back and see how Carlos Zambrano, Bobby Jenks, Geovany Soto and Pelfrey did this season come October. Someone remind me, OK?
As for Pelfrey, I think he will bounce back, if not for the weight, than because he seemed a bit unlucky last year. He gave up a lot of hits on balls in play, which is something that fluctuates. Also, the poor Mets infield defense victimizes him more than his teammates. That won’t change too much in 2010 — he still doesn’t strike out a ton of guys and the Mets didn’t upgrade the defense any — but maybe a few more balls bounce in his favor.
And if he does bounce back we can chalk it up to the weight loss anyway because it’ll make him feel good and encourage him to lay off the pie again next winter.
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.
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.