Grady Sizemore’s status for Opening Day remains uncertain, but Jordan Bastian of MLB.com reports that the center fielder could be cleared to make his spring training debut as soon as this weekend.
However, general manager Chris Antonetti stressed that seeing his first game action doesn’t necessarily mean Sizemore will be ready to begin the season on the active roster, saying:
With Grady we’ll have to see how well he progresses, how well his body responds, and how quickly he’s able to build up to that volume. I don’t think it will be very long until he can go play one nine-inning game. It’s a question of how long will it take for him to play five or six consecutive nine-inning games. We want to activate him when he’s ready to contribute on a consistent basis. Now, exactly how many days a week that will be, I’m not quite sure. But I don’t think anyone is looking for Grady to come up and play one or two days a week.”
Sizemore ran the bases Sunday for the first time since undergoing microfracture surgery on his left knee in June and as recently as a few weeks ago the consensus seemed to be that he wouldn’t be ready until mid-April.
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.