With contract up after this season, would Joe Girardi want to replace Lou Piniella in Chicago?

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Joe Girardi’s three-year contract is up at the end of this season and the New York media is already starting to speculate about him potentially replacing Lou Piniella in Chicago.

Girardi was born and raised in Illinois, got drafted by the Cubs in 1986, and spent two different stints calling Wrigley Field home, playing there from 1989 to 1992 and from 2000 to 2002.

Asked yesterday about Girardi’s status, general manager Brian Cashman said simply: “We’ll deal with contract stuff down the line.” And here’s what Girardi said:

I’m sure I’m going be asked that a lot now that [Piniella’s] stepped down. My focus is here. I have a responsibility to the organization and to the guys in that clubhouse and that’s where my focus is. I’m very happy here. You know what? Great working relationship here with everyone involved and I’m very happy here. This organization has been great to me.

I know I have a background there and I’m not going skirt around my background there. I grew up a Cubs fan, I played for the Cubs, but I’m not worried about that now. I’m worried about what we’re doing now. We’re in a fight.

Andrew Marchand of ESPNNewYork.com notes that the Cubs opening will likely just give Girardi some added leverage when negotiating to remain with the Yankees, which could be similar to when he talked to the Dodgers before agreeing to a three-year, $7.5 million deal to replace Joe Torre.

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.