That work that Joe Mauer is getting a first base is clearly designed to (a) get his bat in the lineup more often; and (b) potentially cover for what could be the loss of Justin Morneau for the rest of the season. But there’s at least one guy who may be happy to see Mauer at first for another reason. That guy is Twins reliever Jose Mijares.
I had missed this over the weekend, but on Friday, Mijares got a bit angry at Mauer over the pitches he called during Mijares’ brief and unsuccessful seventh inning appearance against Prince Fielder. What’s more, he took the unusual step of calling out Mauer for it after the game:
“I don’t know what was going on with Mauer,” Mijares said after the Twins fell back to 10 games below .500. “He never put the sign for breaking ball. Never. Fastball, fastball, fastball. Fastball. Last pitch, I’d like to throw a breaking ball. He said fastball. OK.”
Ron Gardenhire wasn’t happy with the pitch selection either, though it seems that he placed blame on both Mijares and Mauer:
“A lefthander’s gotta come in and hopefully spin some pitches. If you just throw fastballs — I could leave a righthander in to throw fastballs. That’s the way I look at it.”
In all, the lefty Mijares threw six pitches, all of them fastballs. Why, if he felt so strongly about it, he didn’t shake off Mauer or have a little conference about it on the mound is an open question. And of course, if that last fastball to Fielder was any good, Fielder wouldn’t have smacked it for a go-ahead double. For Mauer’s part, he said that Mijares’ slider had been erratic lately, and he worried about walking Fielder. Though, really, a walk to Fielder may not have been awful there.
Either way, it’s not often that you see a reliever — let alone the manager — quibble with pitch selection like this after a game. Especially in a way that calls out an MVP catcher like Mauer.
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.
According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals are keeping an eye on outfield prospect Luis Robert. The 19-year-old left his native Cuba last November and is expected to command interest from multiple MLB teams as he approaches free agency. Goold adds that the Cardinals sent scouts to evaluate Robert’s workouts in the Dominican Republic as recently as last week.
There’s still a good chance that the club won’t get a shot at signing him; as Craig mentioned last month, it seems likely that Major League Baseball won’t declare Robert a free agent until after June 15. By July 2, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement’s policies on international bonuses will go into effect, handcuffing teams with the maximum penalty for bonuses to a $300,000 signing figure for any available international prospect. It’s designed to effectively take away those teams’ abilities to sign additional international talent, and the Cardinals have already spent a reported $9.35 million in bonuses on Venezuelan outfielder Victor Garcia, Cuban outfielders Jonatan Machado and Randy Arozarena and Cuban right-hander Johan Oviedo.
Until the cutoff in mid-June, the Cardinals are likely to continue actively scouting other international talent, including Robert. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez quotes an anonymous National League scouting director who describes Robert as the No. 2 talent behind Japanese wunderkind Shohei Otani. The 19-year-old hit .286/.319/.397 with a .716 OPS during a 16-game run in the Canadian-American League in 2016, following up an impressive three-year tenure with the Ciego de Avila in the Cuban National Series from 2013-2015.