I continue to maintain that the “fans spit on Kristen Lee” thing is being blown way out of proportion. If you’re going to take anything from her comments it’s not that, which was a brief, one-sentence aside. It’s the several things she had to say about liking Dallas, wanting to be close to Arkansas and her and her husband’s smaller town temperament. For his part, Cliff Lee is blowing it off too:
“I brush that off as fans being fans. You can’t control 50,000 people and what they’re going to do. There were some people that were spitting off the balcony on the family section and things like that, and that’s kind of weak, but what can you do? No, I don’t know the guy that did it. It could be anyone. Who knows? Who cares? They’re at home right now.”
And, quite predictably and quite understandably, Cliff Lee’s agent Darek Braunecker — who certainly doesn’t want the Yankees or any other team to shy away from his client — says that the Kristen Lee stuff will have no bearing whatsoever on where Lee ends up signing:
“The story is not an issue to us. Her experience in New York is certainly a non-issue. She enjoys New York as much as anyone enjoys New York.”
“As much as anyone enjoys New York?” Wow, I had no idea it was that bad.
With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.
For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.
Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.
Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.
Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.
The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.