Jerry Manuel might be jumping the gun on Carlos Beltran's return

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Carlos Beltran Mets.jpgCraig already told us that Carlos Beltran played the outfield and homered in an extended spring training game this afternoon. Well, Mets manager Jerry Manuel was so encouraged by the news that he suggested that Beltran could return as a designated hitter during interleague play. (via Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com)

“I think if this trip would have maybe come a week later, I think we
could have possibly DH’d him,” Manuel said. “I could have taken care of
him, you know? I’m still trying to do that. I’m still trying to get him.
I don’t know. I’m anxious to talk to [assistant GM] John Ricco. I’m
anxious to talk to the people down there because I wanted to see how he
felt first going in and out of the field.”

Nice thought, but Mets assistant general manager John Ricco quickly put the kibosh on that one. While saying that the organization doesn’t “frown on optimism,” Ricco called Manuel’s suggestion “pretty aggressive.”

“There’s been really no change in his status,” the assistant GM said of
Beltran. “He’s continued to play in simulated games down at our complex
with various minor leaguers who are there getting ready for their short
seasons that will start up here shortly, and he’s continuing to
progress. But he’s still not ready to go out yet on a formal rehab
assignment.”

From all indications, Beltran is expected to return sometime in July.

Ian Kinsler lists the five toughest pitchers in the AL Central

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Every now and then, The Players’ Tribune runs a “five toughest” feature. In 2015, David Ortiz listed the five toughest pitchers he ever faced. Last month, Christian Yelich wrote up the five toughest pitchers in the NL East. Now, it’s Ian Kinsler‘s turn with the five toughest pitchers in the AL Central.

Kinsler goes into detail explaining why each pitcher is difficult to face, so hop over to The Players’ Tribune for his reasoning. His list

Presumably, Kinsler intentionally omitted his Tiger teammates from the list. He has faced Justin Verlander a fair amount earlier in his career, and he has only a .176/.333/.235 batting line in 42 plate appearances against the right-hander. Verlander’s stuff is often described as tough to hit in one phrase or another. Kinsler has also struggled against Indians starter Carlos Carrasco (.590 OPS), but one can understand why he would be omitted from a list of five given who was already listed.

Angels demote C.J. Cron to Triple-A

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Angels first baseman C.J. Cron hit a grand slam against the Mets on Sunday, but it wasn’t enough to keep his spot on the major league roster as the club announced his demotion to Triple-A Salt Lake on Monday. Infielder Nolan Fantana has been promoted from Salt Lake.

Cron, 27, was hitting a disappointing .232/.281/.305 with one home run and RBI in 90 plate appearances. I guess you can say that wasn’t the kind of Cron job the Angels were expecting. Cron was an above-average hitter in each of his first three seasons, finishing with an OPS+, or adjusted OPS, of 111, 106, and 115 (100 is average).

While Cron is figuring things out in the minors, Luis Valbuena, Jefry Marte, and Albert Pujols could each see some time at first base.