The deal is not done yet, but to my knowledge — and the knowledge of any number of New York people I asked this morning — Joel Sherman has never really whiffed with one of these kinds of reports. It’s never 100% safe to call a deal done before it actually is, but the odds are better on this one than you usually see, given the reporter in question.
So, if it does happen today, what do the Yankees do about the fact that Cliff Lee is scheduled to start tonight? Would they dare keep him on schedule and have him go against the Mariners in their own park, mere hours after the deal? Kind of awkward, ain’t it?
Sherman says no. His sources are telling him that the Yankees and Mariners “may have a gentleman’s agreement” to not have him start at all this series so as not to embarrass the Mariners in their own park. It’s not clear, though, if, in the event dickering over the deal goes past start time of tonight’s game, whether the Mariners would start Lee against the guys who could be his teammates at any moment.
If Lee does start, would a bad start cause people to freak out and launch conspiracy theories that the fix was in? If he doesn’t make the start, would it cause people — mostly people in Boston and Tampa — to freak out about the Mariners basically giving the Yankees a night off? And heck, if he is traded to the Yankees before tonight’s game and he doesn’t start all weekend, what happens if the Yankees get beat three times and end up losing the division by a game or two? I imagine then that the Yankees fans would freak.
In the words of the immortal Johnny Caspar, it’s an interesting ettickal dilemma.
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.