Tigers Indians Baseball

Tigers appear set to make switch at second base

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Scott Sizemore was an apparently healthy scratch from Triple-A Toledo’s lineup on Monday night, suggesting that the Tigers are ready to give last year’s Opening Day second baseman another opportunity.

The 26-year-old Sizemore was off to a torrid start for the Mud Hens, having hit .408/.495/.605 with two homers, 15 RBI and three steals in 23 games.

With Carlos Guillen still on the mend from knee surgery, the Tigers went with Will Rhymes as their primary second baseman to begin this season. Rhymes, though, has hit just .221/.321/.235 with two RBI in 68 at-bats. His struggles had led to Ryan Raburn getting more time at his old position, but the Tigers much prefer Raburn in left field. On Monday, it was veteran utilityman Ramon Santiago who got the call at second base.

Rhymes’ absence suggests that he’ll be sent down to make room for Sizemore. There’s been nothing to indicate that Guillen will return anytime soon, so Sizemore should have the entire month of May to prove he belongs. Possessing considerably more offensive potential than Rhymes, he’s the Tigers’ one internal option capable of stepping up and becoming the team’s long-term second baseman.

Update (10:50 p.m. EDT) – The Tigers confirmed the news after Monday’s loss to the Yankees, announcing that they’d recall Sizemore and demote Rhymes prior to Tuesday’s game.

Jason Kipnis could join Team Israel for 2017 World Baseball Classic

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Jason Kipnis #22 of the Cleveland Indians throws during batting practice prior to Game Seven of the 2016 World Series against the Chicago Cubs at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
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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.

Rangers to sign James Loney to minor league deal

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 21: James Loney #28 of the New York Mets tosses to first base against the San Francisco Giants during the second inning at AT&T Park on August 21, 2016 in San Francisco, California.  The New York Mets defeated the San Francisco Giants 2-0. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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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.