Todd Zolecki of MLB.com writes that the Phillies’ right field job is “a three-man race” and “open competition” among Domonic Brown, Ben Francisco, and John Mayberry Jr., but adds that “many suspect Francisco and Brown will platoon to start the season.”
Before he can claim the bulk of the starts Brown has to first win a spot on the Opening Day roster, which is no sure thing for the 23-year-old top prospect. Brown was called up in late July and remained with the Phillies for the final two-plus months of last season, but started just 13 times in 61 games while getting a grand total of 70 plate appearances.
If the Phillies give him a spot on the Opening Day roster he needs to actually play this time around, and with Jayson Werth gone and Francisco representing the only significant veteran competition for starts that should be an easy call for manager Charlie Manuel. Brown didn’t look very good in his first taste of the majors, but that tends to happen when a 22-year-old is getting one start per week and he’s without question one of the elite prospects in all of baseball after hitting .312 with 23 homers, 62 total extra-base hits, and 25 steals in 130 games between Double-A and Triple-A.
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.