Great, there go the Mets chances of signing Rickey Henderson and Bobby Bonilla again …
Manager Terry Collins told The Post yesterday his team rules, many of which will be unveiled today when he addresses his full squad for the first time, will include a limit on card playing in the clubhouse.
“It’s my understanding [card playing] was an issue last year,” Collins said. “They will be allowed to play cards, but there is going to be a cutoff time before the game.”
That’s from Mike Puma of the New York Post, who adds, from the “I didn’t know that” department, that hitting coach Howard Johnson apparently went ballistic on the team during a road trip last season, saying that they were paying more attention to cards than they were baseball. Of course, this wasn’t long after a bunch of “the Mets are gonna fire Howard Johnson” speculation began swirling around, so maybe HoJo was just a bit irritable.
David Wright is quoted in the article and it’s implied that he was one of the main card-playing offenders last year. He’s fine with the rule, but he plays the “if cards are really a distraction you’ve got bigger problems” card, which suggests that he thinks the rule is kind of silly.
For what it’s worth, I imagine this is like anything else: if your team wins a lot you can have virgin sacrifices ten minutes before the National Anthem and no one is gonna care. If you lose, you have to expect someone — especially a new someone like Collins — is going to single out small things that can be easily changed in the name of tone-setting.
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.