Gordon Edes at ESPN Boston has looked at a draft of the 2011 schedule that is floating around and notices something different:
One significant departure in the MLB schedule is that the season will
begin at the end of the week (most teams will play on Friday, with
presumably one game being played on Thursday night). MLB has
traditionally opened its season on a Monday, with ESPN televising one
game the Sunday night before.
Right-thinking people rarely consider that first Sunday night game as true “Opening Day” because there aren’t a dozen or more baseball games going on in the brilliant Spring sunlight while they drink beers and laugh at all the suckers who weren’t smart enough to skip work for the day.* Monday has always felt like the real Opening Day.
If the real Opening Day is now Friday, it’s actually an improvement, because people can do the same thing they used to do — blow off work and drink beers — but won’t have to wake up early the next day. Win-win.
*Ironically, becoming a Professional Baseball Writer made this past Opening Day the least enjoyable in living memory because I didn’t cut work in the name of baseball and I didn’t drink those beers. As far as NBC knows, anyway.
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.