David Eckstein visited his brother, Washington pitching coach Rick Eckstein, before yesterday’s Nationals-Angels game and told Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times that he’s not officially retired despite turning down multiple offers from teams this offseason.
In fact, Eckstein revealed that he turned down an offer from an undisclosed team last month, although presumably it was for a minor-league contract.
According to Eckstein he decided not to play, instead spending the past few months working for his wife, actress Ashley Drane, but is fine physically and has not ruled out a return at age 36.
DiGiovanna noted that Eckstein “shrugged his shoulders” when asked if he would play again and then wrote the usual Eckstein cliches:
Much of David Eckstein’s value goes well beyond statistics–his grit and desire, his knowledge of and instincts for the game, his clubhouse leadership, his willingness to sacrifice himself for the good of the team by advancing runners with ground-ball outs.
Grit and desire! Clubhouse leadership! Willingness to sacrifice himself for the good of the team!
Funny how the actual MLB teams don’t seem to have quite the same appreciation for that “value” as reporters do. Eckstein made just $850,000 in 2009 and $1 million last season, hitting .263 with a .652 OPS in 252 total games for the Padres. DiGiovanna says “it appeared several teams focused on Eckstein’s statistics, which are not overwhelming.” Imagine that.
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.