Mets outfielder Carlos Beltran has been sidelined all season while rehabilitating from knee surgery and hasn’t exactly been making swift progress. Hopefully that will all begin changing, as he played in a second straight extended spring training game on Saturday, according to the New York Daily News.
Beltran is still running at less than 75 percent effort, so he has served as the designated hitter in the two exhibition contests rather than patrol center field. When he makes contact, he jogs slowly to first base.
Mets GM Omar Minaya is hoping that the 33-year-old outfielder will be ready to rejoin the club in a little over a month and that seems to be a realistic expectation, at least for now. Beltran is still wearing a brace, and his surgically-repaired knee won’t truly be tested until he runs the bases, goes hard after fly balls, and does other strenuous lateral movements.
For now we play the waiting game and wonder what kind of boost the third-place Mets will get if a healthy Beltran returns after the All-Star break. He’s a .283/.360/.496 career hitter with 273 home runs and 286 stolen bases in 12 professional seasons.
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.