The American Century Celebrity Golf Championship is a — duh — celebrity golf tournament that the good people at NBC happen to broadcast and sponsor and everything. It went down in Lake Tahoe this past weekend and, as usual, a lot of ex-baseball players participated.
The bosses didn’t let me go though, presumably because John Smoltz and Greg Maddux were involved this year and they didn’t want me going all Chris Farley on them (“remember that time you guys won the World Series. That was awesome!”). Probably good for another reason too, because I’m not sure I would have been able to avoid taunting Smoltz just a wee little bit after it was all over yesterday.
Why? A little birdie tells me that, last week, Smoltz — who is an outstanding golfer — was at 15-1 to win it on the big board at Harrah’s. Before the tournament started, however, he went off at 1-1. Why? Partially because a lot of people thought he might win it. Partially, however, because he put a whole bunch of money on himself to win it.
Sadly, however, he didn’t. He started off slow on Friday and wasn’t able to come all the way back. Billy Joe Tolliver won it. Smoltz and Tony Romo tied for second.
On the bright side, if Smoltz changes his mind about retiring from baseball, any prospective employer can secure themselves with the knowledge that Smoltz still has the utmost confidence in his own abilities.
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.