Yesterday manager Ron Gardenhire revealed to reporters that Joe Mauer might be held out from catching early in Twins camp after receiving a lubricant injection in his surgically repaired left knee, saying he wanted to “make sure those things take effect” before upping Mauer’s workload.
Apparently that wasn’t supposed to be public information, because this morning Mauer spoke to those same reporters about the situation and they all came away thinking he was upset at Gardenhire for spilling the beans.
Phil Mackey of 1500ESPN.com wrote that Mauer “wasn’t thrilled about his lubricant knee shot going public.” Kelsie Smith of the St. Paul Pioneer Press wrote that Mauer is “miffed the shots are public.” LaVelle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune wrote that Mauer was “not pleased Gardenhire outed him about the injection.”
During a typical interview Mauer says absolutely nothing of interest, let alone anything even close to controversial, so for three reporters to come away from a meeting with him thinking he was upset about the manager’s loose lips is noteworthy. Mauer also stressed that the injection is simply part of his planned recovery from surgery, saying that the shot he received this week is the first in a series of three scheduled to get him ready for the season:
It’s not that I need it. It’s more of a preventative thing just to make sure I’m good to go for the season. It’s really not that big of a deal and I kind of wish it wasn’t out there, but here we are. I was surprised that it was out there. Usually a lot of these things happen and you never know about it. I guess being a catcher and all that stuff, it might sound a lot worse than what it is. I don’t think it’s really that big of a deal.
Mauer has had more than his fair share of injuries over the years, including a knee injury that required surgery and cut short his rookie season after just 35 games in 2004, but since then he’s been among the most durable catchers in baseball while averaging 134 games and 576 plate appearances per season.
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.