No All-Star starters would end long run for Red Sox

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Unless Jon Lester or Clay Buchholz draws the nod in the first inning, all signs point to the Red Sox being without a starter on the AL All-Star squad for the first time since 1998.
There is one qualification there. Manny Ramirez was voted into the lineup in 2003, but he skipped the game because of a hamstring injury, leaving Boston without a starter.
The Red Sox, though, have had someone voted in to represent the AL each of the last nine years. The last time they didn’t was 2000, but they had a starter then because Ramirez, in his final season in Cleveland, sat out the game, making room for Carl Everett.
The string is set to be broken this year. Dustin Pedroia is the highest Sock in the balloting and he’s more than 500,000 votes behind Robinson Cano at second base (1,293,724 to 725,081). Victor Martinez is third at catcher, and Kevin Youkilis, Adrian Beltre and David Ortiz are all fourth at their positions. The Red Sox don’t have a single outfielder in the top 15.
The Red Sox still figure to be well represented in Anaheim. The two aforementioned starting pitchers are strong candidates for spots, and Jonathan Papelbon has a chance to go in relief. Youkilis has the AL’s third-best OPS, and Pedroia, even in a down year, is as good a choice as any to back up Cano (Ben Zobrist also has a good argument, but he’s playing quite a bit more outfield than second base). Ortiz is probably a long shot. While he’s been the AL’s second-best DH, there are four first basemen having better seasons in Justin Morneau, Miguel Cabrera, Youkilis and Paul Konerko.
No starters, though. It’s the end of an era.
Red Sox All-Star Game starters
1999 – Nomar Garciaparra
2000 – Carl Everett
2001 – Manny Ramirez
2002 – Manny Ramirez, Shea Hillenbrand, Derek Lowe
2003 – Manny Ramirez*
2004 – Manny Ramirez
2005 – Manny Ramirez, David Ortiz, Jason Varitek, Johnny Damon
2006 – Manny Ramirez*, David Ortiz, Mark Loretta
2007 – David Ortiz
2008 – Manny Ramirez, Kevin Youkilis, Dustin Pedroia
2009 – Jason Bay

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.