Brandon League stepped in for the injured David Aardsma and converted each of his first nine save chances as the Mariners’ closer, but all of a sudden he can’t get anyone out.
League took his first loss of the season Sunday by allowing three runs, blew a save and took a loss in the 13th inning Tuesday, and then blew another save and took a third straight loss in the 12th inning last night.
Through his first 14 appearances of the season League had a 2.08 ERA and 10/2 K/BB ratio in 13 innings while converting 9-of-9 save opportunities. In his last three appearance he’s 0-3 with two blown saves and a 27.00 ERA, coughing up seven runs while recording seven outs.
Any thoughts of replacing League as closer are complicated by the fact that Aardsma’s recovery from hip surgery has now given way to what could be a significant elbow injury, meaning he won’t be back any time soon. Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times also suggests that warming up multiple times in extra-inning games and being asked to pitch more than one inning may have contributed to League’s struggles. And the defense didn’t do him any favors either.
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.