UPDATE: First he signed, then he didn’t, then he signed and then he didn’t: Chien-Ming Wang’s agent is now saying that the reports are inaccurate, there is no deal with the Nats, and that Wang hasn’t finalized anything with anybody.
And with that, I’m officially out of the Wang business. He could carve his signature into a granite contract with a diamond-tipped chisel in front of 200 notaries public tomorrow and I won’t accept it as fact until I hear three pinky swears and a blood oath as to the deal’s veracity.
10:28 A.M.: There was a lot of back and forth yesterday about whether the Nats and Chien-Ming Wang had a deal or not. Pete Abraham said they did first, only to have some others say, no, no deal is in place. I had called these later reports “debunkings” but in hindsight that was a really poor choice of words, because it automatically assumed that the latest reports were right, and there was no reason to assume that. Why? For one thing Abraham, I later learned, is really tight with Wang’s camp and is trusted by people who know things to know what’s going on with him.
For another thing, it appears as though Abe was right. Last night the China Times reported that, yes, there is a $2 million deal with the chance of it getting to $3 million if certain incentives are met. Later Ken Davidoff of Newsday tweeted the same thing, and no one has since said anything to the contrary.
So apologies to Mr. Abraham and congratulations to Mr. Wang and the Nats, who I think will make a nice pairing.
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.