As a good and proper fanboy, I felt obligated to swing by Fredi Gonzalez’s managerial availability a few minutes ago. Of note:
- He likes the team. Said “we have a lot of good players.” Whew! I can’t imagine the awkwardness that would go down if he said all the players sucked;
- He is obviously happy to be in Atlanta and out of Miami. He said that he’s been recognized out around town in Atlanta by fans more in the couple if months since he’s been hired than he was recognized as the Marlins guy during his entire tenure in Miami.
- He was asked about what the team might be doing between now and spring training. Short answer: not a ton. More on the bullpen obviously. Backup outfield too. That’s about it. To that end he said that the team has discussed bringing Andruw Jones back as a fourth or fifth outfielder. Others say that’s not terribly likely, however.
Interesting stuff listening to the manager whose team you root for in that setting. The urge to plead with him not to do a bunch of things you fear he’ll do this season is really, really strong. Thank God I’m a pro.
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.