The Rangers auction is now set for August 4th

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My immediate interest in the Rangers’ sale has waned in the past week because (1) the fact that they traded for Cliff Lee means that they’ve made their big on-the-field move and thus getting the sale done before the trade deadline isn’t as pressing for baseball purposes as it seemed before; and (2) with all of the motions, cross-motions, requests for injunctions and all of that jazz, it’s starting to remind me of the old law gig, frankly, and that’s a real drag for me.

But I do feel duty-bound to keep up, and I thus am obliged to pass along word — gleaned from Daniel Kaplan’s latest at SBJ and Barry Shlachter’s reports in the Dallas Morning News — that the bankruptcy judge yesterday set the auction for the team for August 4th.  It had originally been scheduled for July 22nd, but the Greenberg/Ryan lawsuit — which the judge has decided to treat as a mere motion in the ongoing case as opposed to its own thing — and other events have made the earlier date impossible.  The creditors wanted to push things out even farther, but the judge said no dice.  The auction date should be seen as a win for Greenberg and Ryan.

Other news of note: After months of suggestions that he would not be approved, Major League Baseball is now apparently fine with Jim Crane as an owner in the event that he wins the bid. Jeff Beck too, though that was less in question than Crane, seeing as baseball was fine with him back in December when he was part of the Dennis Gilbert bid.  I assume that means that the auction is the real deal — highest bidder wins — with an MLB veto not coming into play.  There will need to be formal approval (i.e. an owner vote) later, but that should be a formality once all of this legal messiness is over. I mean, really, how badly would Bud Selig crush, say, Fred Wilpon if he decided to be a pain in the butt about this after all the trouble everyone has gone through?

The judge said that, assuming the auction goes off smoothly, the team could emerge from bankruptcy that day.  Viva efficiency.

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.