People were complaining about the Fenway Park infield when I was a kid. Heck, they were probably complaining about it when Jerry Remy and Glenn Hoffman were kids. Tall grass. Bad bounces. Gophers and stuff. Just all kinds of nastiness.
I figured that bit of charm had largely gone away, what with the meticulous makeover Fenway has seen over the years. But apparently that’s not the case, as Nick Cafardo collects multiple quotes from Red Sox and Yankees players, all of whom preface or end their complaints by saying “not that you can really complain . . .”
On the list of things that bother me in baseball, this comes in somewhere below the fact that men don’t wear straw boater hats to games anymore and somewhere above the fact that ketchup and relish gang up on mustard and cheat to win the Sugardale Hot Dog race during Columbus Clippers games at Huntington Park. It’s just one of them things. In the case of the infield grass it’s part of home field advantage and, though frustrating, it’s no different than ballparks having different sight lines and wall configurations and all of that.
Will it ever change? Maybe. The Cubs did an overhaul of their notoriously awful infield grass before the 2009 season, and now it appears to play a lot smoother than it used to. The Red Sox could do something like that if they wanted to.
My guess though: they won’t, at least until they sign the next circa-2000 Alex Rodriguez who makes a point of demanding it. And given how long the Sox have gone without a big deal shortstop, don’t hold your breath.
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.