I laughed when the Yankees signed Bartolo Colon. A lot of people did. I figured that he’d come to camp, not make the team, get assigned to extended spring training in Tampa and — as he has done a couple of times in recent years — decide that he’d prefer to be back home doing whatever it is he does with his free time rather than playing baseball.
I certainly couldn’t have been more wrong about something than I was about that. Colon thrived in spring training. Despite out-pitching Freddy Garcia, he willingly and seemingly happily accepted his role as a long reliever when the season began. Each time he came in — usually for the faltering Phil Hughes — he was effective. And yesterday, making his first start on the year he was effective again: he allowed two runs and five hits in six and two-thirds innings, picking up his first win in nearly two years.
Overall on the year Colon has struck out 20 batters in 18 innings against five walks. The only question about him at the moment is his durability, but so far he’s done everything he’s been asked to do and he’s done it well. If his season ended tomorrow for some reason he has already provided a valuable boost to the Yankees.
Not bad, Bartolo. Please, accept my apologies for the laughter.
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.