Richard Sandomir of the New York Times wrote about Jane Leavy’s new Mickey Mantle biography and included this interesting tidbit regarding the Hall of Famer’s infamous 1951 knee injury:
Her research into Mantle’s injury history rejects his claim that his right knee was operated on after he fell over a drain cover at Yankee Stadium while stopping to let Joe DiMaggio catch a fly ball in the 1951 World Series.
When Mantle had surgery two years later, there was no established procedure to fix a torn anterior cruciate ligament, which she believes Mantle played on for the rest of his career. The orthopedic surgeon who analyzed the case history that Leavy compiled said it was likely that Mantle compensated for the torn ACL with what the orthopedist called “neuromuscular genius.”
There are no further details about the knee injury in Sandomir’s article–the goal is to get you to buy the book, after all, and the basic information about the injury is well known–but Mantle was a 19-year-old rookie in the aforementioned World Series and the notion that he went on to play 17 seasons with a torn ACL is pretty extraordinary. Mantle won three MVPs, hit 523 homers, stole 145 bases, and played 12,000 innings in center field after Leavy claims he tore his ACL.
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.