Coming off the worst season of his career, Derek Jeter will report to the Yankees’ spring training complex in two weeks to get a head start working with hitting coach Kevin Long.
Full squad workouts aren’t until February 20, but Long told Brian Costello of the New York Post that Jeter “wants to get going” and has already started to make some mechanical adjustments:
We’re well on our way to getting that taken care of and seeing if we can’t speed up the process with him a little bit. I just want to pick up basically where we left off last year and go from there. I think we found something with his stride and the direction of his stride and going up and down with his stride instead of gaining distance and going in. We’re going to try to keep it as simple as we can, try to control his movement and try to get him to be more consistent through the contact point.
Jeter batted .330 in April last year, but then hit just .260 with a lowly .344 slugging percentage in 136 games from May 1 to the end of the season while never cracking even a .725 OPS in a month. After some ugliness in negotiations played out through the media, Jeter and the Yankees agreed to a three-year, $51 million deal that will keep him in New York through at least age 39.
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.