Tony La Russa tries to defuse the Colby Rasmus situation

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Tony La Russa did his best today to defuse the budding controversy surrounding Colby Rasmus and his future with the team, telling the Post-Dispatch that to say the situation has devolved to an “either Rasmus goes or La Russa goes” state it all wrong and overstates the situation.

Which I agree, it states the matter too strongly. La Russa is going to go when he wants to, not because management forces him out over a dustup with Colby Rasmus. By the same token, Rasmus is not going to get shipped out just because people are getting snippy with him in the course of a horrendous late-season swoon. Stuff happens when teams lose and ugliness comes to the fore.

Of course, because he’s Tony La Russa, his comments make it very clear that he thinks everyone has it all wrong but him. I’ve still yet to hear any explanation for why Rasmus’ playing time has been so wonky (one that makes any sense, anyway). Likewise, I’d be curious to know who leaked word that Rasmus had asked for a trade earlier this season, because the only person whose cause that helps to have out there is La Russa’s (i.e. Rasmus being difficult gives La Russa cover for jerking him around).

Rasmus may not understand that his best move is always to keep quiet, play well and let things sort themselves out until his power to control his own destiny increases with service time. But it seems to me that La Russa has a lot of run-ins with players that go public, and that reflects more poorly on La Russa than Rasmus’ immaturity reflects on him.

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.