UPDATE: Junichi Tazawa visits with Dr. James Andrews

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Tazawa headshot.jpgUPDATE: Tazawa tells Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald that there appears to be ligament damage in his elbow. He’s not sure about surgery, according to Lauber, but it “will be part of the discussion.” Doesn’t sound too promising.

Monday, 7:14 pm: Uh-oh. The Red Sox announced on Monday that Junichi Tazawa was in Birmingham, Ala. to have his right elbow examined by famed orthopedic surgeon Dr. James Andrews. As Red Sox pitching coach John Farrell told Rob Bradford of WEEI.com, the elbow bothered Tazawa during the second half of the 2009 season:

“He’s been dealing with some discomfort, some tightness, in the second
half of last year,” Farrell explained. “He went through a normal
offseason, didn’t have any issues, came into spring training, went
through every outlined throwing session that we had and there were
varying degrees of tightness or discomfort at different points this
spring. And then in games his velocity was not quite where it was in the
past and his breaking stuff was not as sharp. And even in his last
bullpen he felt there was a little bit of tightness. I wouldn’t say it
was further, or getting worse, but precautionary we wanted to send him
to see Andrews and get that evaluation.”

Tazawa, 23, was 2-3 with a 7.46 ERA, 2.05 WHIP and 13/9 K/BB ratio in 25 1/3 innings with the Red Sox last season. We aren’t going to look too much into those numbers, though, as the young right-hander was 9-5 with a 2.55 ERA and 1.04 WHIP in 20 starts between Double-A Portland and Triple-A Pawtucket last season, showing plenty of promise and elite command. Hopefully this is just a mere bump in the road for him.
 

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.