Adrian Beltre really, really hates it when someone touches his head and his Red Sox teammates did it so much in the dugout last season that there’s a website filled with video clips of him freaking out.
He changed teams during the offseason and signed a five-year, $80 million contract, but that won’t keep his new teammates from picking up the head-touching slack. In fact, as T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com writes various Rangers are already making a habit of exploiting Beltre’s weird … I dunno, I guess phobia?
For instance, here’s Elvis Andrus:
Oh yeah … a bunch of times. He better get used to it. He might kick my tail, but I’m going to do it.
And now reigning MVP Josh Hamilton:
Guys just find out and everybody knows about Adrian. You can tell we get him to a point where he might lose it and then we back off. You don’t want it to come to a point where he doesn’t want to come to work because he feels tormented. I have to get to know him better, but that day’s coming.
Yes, you wouldn’t want to rub a man’s head without getting to know him better first.
The primary head-rubbing culprit in Boston was Victor Martinez, so at least Beltre is free from him. He’s still holding onto that grudge, though:
Sometimes I thought about killing him. But I thought about it. I have a family so I didn’t.
Beltre tried to tell Sullivan that the whole head-rubbing thing is actually “no big deal,” but there are a few dozen highly amusing video clips to suggest otherwise and a whole clubhouse full of brand new teammates don’t immediately take such glee in tormenting someone about something unless it’s a pretty big deal for them. Unfortunately for Beltre, he’s probably long past the whole “act like it doesn’t bother you” thing being an effective deterrent.
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.