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.
The dust hasn’t quite settled after right-hander Dellin Betances‘ arbitration hearing with the Yankees on Saturday. The case was decided in the team’s favor, awarding Betances with a $3 million salary for the 2017 season instead of the $5 million he initially requested. Yankees’ president Randy Levine held a press conference to voice his outrage over the figure presented by Betances and his agency, saying it had “no bearings in reality” since Betances does not have the elite closer status required for a salary bump of that magnitude.
Needless to say, the comments caused some consternation within Betances’ camp. The reliever publicly addressed the outburst, telling the press that he was prepared to put his differences with the team aside until he heard what Levine had to say. Via MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch:
Players union executive Rick Shapiro and Betances’ agent, Jim Murray, also spoke out in the right-hander’s favor. Shapiro presented Betances’ case during the hearing on Saturday and called Levine’s comments “an absolute disgrace to the arbitration process and to all of Major League Baseball.” In a report from FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal, Shapiro added: “The only thing that has been unprecedented in the last 36 hours is that a club official, after winning a case, called a news conference to effectively gloat about his victory – that’s unprecedented.”
Murray spoke exclusively to Rosenthal, accusing the president of effectively bullying the 28-year-old during the arbitration process and claiming that Levine had both mispronounced Betances’ name throughout the hearing and blamed the reliever for “declining ticket sales and their lack of playoff history.” Like Betances, Murray said that the agency was ready to accept the arbiter’s decision and move on before Levine’s decision to air his grievances to the media. “The only person overreaching in this entire situation is Randy,” Murray told Rosenthal. “He might as well be an astronaut because nobody on earth would agree with what he is saying. Even the others in the room would disagree with him.”
Royals’ manager Ned Yost is shaking things up in 2017, starting with left fielder Alex Gordon. Yost told MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan that “every scenario is open,” and expects to utilize Gordon in right and center field this spring while he figures out where to position Jorge Soler and Brandon Moss.
Gordon, 33, hasn’t manned right field since a three-game experiment with the Royals back in 2010 and has yet to play center field during any regular season to date. The focus, however, isn’t on Gordon’s capabilities. Among the three outfielders, he carries the best defensive profile and appears to be the most versatile of the bunch.
According to Flanagan, Soler and Moss are average on defense and will continue working closely with Royals’ coach Rusty Kuntz as the season approaches. One arrangement could see Gordon in center field, flanked by Soler in right field and Moss in left, though Yost foresees Soler taking some reps at DH if his defensive chops aren’t up to snuff.
While Moss is prepared to see starts at either outfield corner, Yost appears to be set on keeping Soler in right field, at least for the time being. The club is hoping for a bounce-back season from the 24-year-old outfielder, who was acquired from the Cubs in December after batting a lackluster .238/.333/.436 and sustaining a slew of minor injuries throughout the 2016 season.