According to Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle, Giants manager Bruce Bochy confirmed a short while ago that Brandon Belt could be sent back to the minors if Cody Ross is activated from the disabled list tomorrow.
Ross is scheduled to play nine innings in a minor league rehab game with Triple-A Fresno tonight, so if all goes well, he’ll likely join the team in Colorado. Darren Ford is another candidate to be sent to the minor leagues, but Bochy dropped some pretty big hints that the young first baseman will be packing his bags.
“If it’s time to make that move, it wouldn’t be the worst thing,” Bochy said. “The kid is ahead of schedule. He only had one year in the minor-leagues without frankly having much success at the highest level. We’ve thrown a lot at him. But we haven’t made the decision yet.”
Belt, 22, is batting just .200/.310/.280 over his first 58 major league plate appearances and hasn’t driven in a run since April 3. It was quite an accomplishment for him to make the team out of spring training, but he’d be better served to get his confidence back at the Triple-A level. Meanwhile, Aubrey Huff can return to his best defensive position at first base while Ross can play right field or be another option in center until Andres Torres returns.
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.