Sports Illustrated runs a fascinating profile of Jayson Werth this week. It’s very long, very good and is worth a full and thoughtful read, but one passage from the first page stood out at me:
Werth is quick to deflect questions that demand introspection. He
agreed to an interview only if no questions involved his wife, his two
kids or any aspect of his private life. The rest of his relatives are
off limits too. Asked–gingerly–if he would pass along the number of his
mother, the former track star Kim Schofield Werth, he snaps, “My mom is
unavailable. She just got her phone number unlisted and moved from
Illinois to the Ozarks.” Ditto his stepfather, the former big leaguer
Dennis Werth: “I’ve got his number in my cell, but I’m not giving it
“I don’t see why he has to share his thoughts about me with the rest of the world.”
If I were thrust out into to the public spotlight like that I would probably feel equally protective of my privacy and my family, so I have no criticism of Werth for this.
But, to the extent people are still thinking that it would be a great idea to sign a big long term deal with the Yankees, the quoted passage is a pretty good indication that life for Werth in New York would be something approaching hell. The press simply demands more of a player there, and to survive as a big money player in the Big Apple you either have to (a) be a smooth and professional PR assassin like Derek Jeter; or (b) you have to be a self-effacing and personable character like Nick Swisher or someone.
Based on this glimpse of Werth — and I admit, it’s only a glimpse — he doesn’t seem to fall in the “New York-Friendly” category of superstars.
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.