The Padres had to do something after scoring just two runs while being swept by the Mariners over the weekend, and the hammer came down on Will Venable today, as the team demoted it’s primary right fielder and called up Blake Tekotte.
Venable, the Padres’ leader with 11 steals, was hitting just .224/.293/.291 with no homers and eight RBI in 134 at-bats.
Chris Denorfia, who had been playing over Venable against left-handed pitching, should be in line for an expanded role now. Denorfia has been the Padres’ best hitter at .333/.385/.500 in 84 at-bats for the season.
Tekotte is also due a long look. The 2008 third-round pick out of the University of Miami was hitting .291/.310/.486 with six homers and 14 steals for Double-A San Antonio. A left-handed hitter, he’ll see time against righties for the Padres. He was hitting .305/.431/.568 against them in the Texas League.
In choosing Tekotte, the Padres bypassed Aaron Cunningham, who is hitting a solid .288/.379/.460 for Triple-A Tucson. However, the team pretty clearly wanted a left-handed hitter, which Tekotte is. Ryan Ludwick, Cameron Maybin and Denorfia are all righties.
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.