Remember the ridiculous controversy — or was it a nontroversey? — last September when Carlos Beltran, Luis Castillo and Oliver Perez failed to make the voluntary team visit to Walter Reed Hospital while in Washington to play the Nats? How Jeff Wilpon and then the New York media went absolutely bonkers over this, calling out those three for not doing something that reflected that there are things in the world that are bigger than baseball? Even though they never, ever would have been called out for it had it not been for their subpar performance as baseball players?
Yeah, that was totally not fun. But at least it served one purpose: it put everyone else on notice that, boy howdy, they have better have their stories straight for the next visit to Walter Reed. Which occurred today:
The Mets visited Walter Reed Medical Center on Tuesday and unlike last year, the only two players who didn’t attend — Francisco Rodriguez and Taylor Buchholz — notified the team in advance that they wouldn’t arrive until Tuesday and had permission to miss it.
It’s neat that one needs “permission” to miss a voluntary outing like this, but such is the world the Mets live in now. A world in which fear of a public shaming by team ownership and the press instills patriotism and fosters a strong belief in public service. And what better motivation is there than that!
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.