As part of his “Media Power Rankings” column at SI.com Richard Deitsch followed up on the Twitter/MLB story from last month:
NBCSports.com baseball blogger Aaron Gleeman reported that Major League Baseball had cracked down on the Twitter usage of its MLB.com writers, ordering them to stop tweeting non-baseball topics. … SI.com confirmed independently that MLB.com writers were told by superiors to keep their social media musings to baseball only.
On Friday SI.com called MLB vice president of public relations Patrick Courtney to get clarification about what its writers can and cannot do on Twitter. Asked if MLB writers had been specifically asked not to tweet non-baseball related items or notes, Courtney said he was not aware of that, though he did note that MLB sent an email in April to all its non-playing employees outlining its social media policy.
Courtney said MLB encourages its writers to be individuals in the social media space and that the organization wants its writers to gain a following among fans. There is no arguing that MLB Advanced Media has been at the forefront of social media among sports entities …That’s why this chilling (my words) either directly or indirectly is disappointing. MLB should trust its writers, and the people who read them. Part of the fun of Twitter is learning about the personalities of those behind the 140 characters.
At the time MLB inexplicably reacted as if I was making the whole story up (before eventually softening their stance a bit), so I’m glad to see that Deitsch uncovered similar information from his sources. I also agree with him that a big part of my Twitter enjoyment comes from getting to know the personalities of people I follow beyond the persona that comes across in their day-to-day job, which is why MLB.com writers being “encouraged” to cease non-baseball posts was so disappointing.
With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.
For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.
Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.
Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.
Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.
The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.