Rarely is the question asked: is our Jeff Francoeur learning?

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Less than a year ago, Jeff Francoeur famously said “If on-base percentage is so important, then why don’t they put it up on the scoreboard?”  Never mind that OBP had long been on the scoreboard in Atlanta.

As evidenced by that quote, my problem with Jeff Francoeur wasn’t so much that he never seemed to be able to take a walk. It was that he was ignorantly defensive about the very notion of taking one.  He never wanted to learn plate patience, and the one time the Braves took a hard stand on the matter — sending Frenchie to the minors to work on it — he pouted to the media about it and was called up three days later.

But then I open up my virtual copy of the New York Post this morning and see this:

“One of my big goals is to have better pitch recognition,” said
Francoeur, who hit .311 as a Met. “Sometimes you try to say it doesn’t
bother you to swing at a bad pitch, but it does. I’m human. I want to
get better because I know if I can get better at that the rest of my
game will follow. If I can mix in 50-60 walks, I become a totally
different guy.”

I really, really want that to be a genuine goal for Francoeur. Because despite the fact that he plays for the Mets and despite the fact that he drove me crazy for most of five seasons as a Brave, he could be an absolutely electrifying player if he was somehow able to show even a moderate amount of selectivity at the plate.

(thanks to Steve Nolan for the heads up)

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.