Tampa Bay Rays v Milwaukee Brewers

Did Joe Maddon lie to the umpires last night?

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Weirdness in the Rays-Brewers game, as Sam Fuld — who had pinch hit for reliever J.P. Howell in the top of the eighth — came out to the mound to warm up as the relief pitcher in the bottom of the inning.  He did not face any batters, however, as manager Joe Maddon pulled him for reliever Cesar Ramos after Ramos had time to warm up.

Except here’s the problem: the rules state that if a reliever — in this case Fuld — warms up, he has to actually pitch to a batter.  How did he get out of it? The umpires were told that Fuld had “soreness” and this had to be lifted because of an injury.  This despite the fact that Maddon was pretty expansive after the game in saying that he never intended to let Fuld pitch at all and his presence out there was merely to give Ramos more time.

To sum up: Fuld warming up was a stalling tactic to give Ramos more time, and Maddon — or someone — apparently lied to the umps about Fuld being hurt so that the switch could be made before Fuld had to face anyone.  The umps, as they explained after the game, have to take the manager at his word when an injury is mentioned because, really, they can’t be in the business of judging which injuries are legit and which ones aren’t.

Is this worthy of a federal case? Not really, and it likely had no impact whatsoever on the game. But if I’m Joe Torre or someone I have a talk with Joe Maddon about this, because it looks like he was playing fast and loose, and appearances sort of matter.

Mets leaning on Jay Bruce, Neil Walker as Lucas Duda insurance

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MAY 12:  Pinch hitter Lucas Duda #21 of the New York Mets walks back to the dugout after striking out for the first out of the ninth inning against Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on May 12, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  The Dodgers won 5-0.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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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.

Jason Kipnis diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Jason Kipnis #22 of the Cleveland Indians celebrates after scoring a run on a wild pitch thrown by Jon Lester #34 of the Chicago Cubs (not pictured) during the fifth inning in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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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.