Oakland Athletics v Milwaukee Brewers

Ryan Braun: I’m feeling “better than I’ve ever felt”

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All-star outfielder Ryan Braun gave the Brewers a big scare Saturday when he left the club’s Cactus League game against the Diamondbacks with a strained intercostal muscle.

It turns out he’s going to be just fine.

According to Adam McCalvy of MLB.com, Braun actually suffered the injury while shagging fly balls against the outfield wall during pregame warmups. He felt healthy enough to start the game and only came out in the first inning as a precaution.

Braun spoke to McCalvy on Sunday afternoon and reported feeling not only “fine,” but also better than he has ever felt in his entire life.

“It’s nothing at all,” Braun said. “I could have played [Saturday] but there’s no sense in it. Honestly, I feel better than I’ve ever felt in my life, so I don’t really need at-bats right now. There’s no doubt in my mind I’m better than I’ve ever been at baseball, so nothing positive comes from the rest of these Spring Training games. I don’t need at-bats. I feel great. So there’s no reason to take a chance right now.”
Braun is likely to sit out for the next week or so, but he can get his timing right in late March before the start of the regular season and be a healthy member of Milwaukee’s Opening Day starting lineup. The 27-year-old has immense natural talent and is certainly capable of backing up that “better than I’ve ever felt” talk. He has a .918 career OPS and 128 career home runs as a four-year major leaguer.

Mets leaning on Jay Bruce, Neil Walker as Lucas Duda insurance

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MAY 12:  Pinch hitter Lucas Duda #21 of the New York Mets walks back to the dugout after striking out for the first out of the ninth inning against Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on May 12, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  The Dodgers won 5-0.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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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.

Jason Kipnis diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Jason Kipnis #22 of the Cleveland Indians celebrates after scoring a run on a wild pitch thrown by Jon Lester #34 of the Chicago Cubs (not pictured) during the fifth inning in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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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.