Thanks again, HBT readers!

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With the trade deadline in our rear view mirror, we’d like to take this opportunity to thank the citizens of the HBT Multiverse* for clicking in and reading us as the rumors went wild and the news nuggets flew these past couple of weeks.

Traffic was through the roof in July. That’s nice, but even nicer is that there has been a nice steady climb in readership of the blog each month since the day we started it last year.  That means that you’re not only showing up for the big news and transactions, but that you’re sticking around for the highs and lows of the baseball season too. We’re glad you’ve come and we’re glad you’ve stayed.

I know the redesign was rocky and at times annoying and I know that no one needs to see my pasty mug on video six times a week, but through all that adversity, you folks have remained loyal and — more importantly — haven’t stopped giving us the business in the comments when we’ve needed it.  We view this blog as a conversation, and we’re happy you’re talking back.

We’re pumped as hell for the pennant races to start sizzling this month and next, and from the playoffs through the winter meetings and on into next spring we’re going to keep it rockin’ like Dokken for you.

In the meantime, never hesitate to click the little “tip/feedback” button to the left to tell us what you’re hearing, what you like, what you hate and anything and everything else you can think of short of requests to help you “liberate certain funds that are on deposit with the Central Bank of Nigeria.” Fool us once, shame on you. Fool us twice, shame on us. Fool us three, four and five times, well, that was Gleeman’s fault. He thought we were due.

I lost my train of thought.  So let me just explain — wait, that would take too long, so let me sum up — by saying, once again, thanks!

*Take that Yankees and Red Sox. You can have your puny universes and nations.

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.