Ryan Madson is in the final season of a three-year, $12 million deal and the setup man told Matt Gelb of the Philadelphia Inquirer that he “would love the opportunity to stay and finish my career here.”
Madson also told Gelb that he’d like the chance to be a closer and with the Phillies likely to decline their $12.5 million option on Brad Lidge for 2012 there’s an opportunity to assume ninth-inning duties in Philadelphia.
Gelb speculates that the payroll won’t have enough room to keep both Madson and Lidge, but it remains to be seen if the Phillies are comfortable with the notion of Madson as a full-time closer. He’s struggled at times when asked to fill in for Lidge, but Madson’s overall body of work as a setup man shows him as one of the elite relievers in all of baseball and there’s little doubt he could translate that success to the closer role if given an extended shot.
Of course, Madson has been so consistently excellent as a setup man that several teams are likely to offer him a closing gig if he hits the open market. Since moving to the bullpen full time in 2007 he has a 3.01 ERA and more strikeouts (252) than hits allowed (242) in 269 innings. During that time the only relievers in baseball to throw as many innings as Madson with a lower ERA are Mariano Rivera, Heath Bell, Carlos Marmol, and Darren Oliver.
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.