Rafael Furcal wrapped up his minor league rehab assignment last night with High-A Rancho Cucamonga and is slated to rejoin the Dodgers as soon as tomorrow. There’s nothing official yet, but Matt Stevens of the Los Angeles Times writes that all signs point to rookie shortstop Dee Gordon being sent back to Triple-A Albuquerque.
“We’ll make that decision on Sunday,” Mattingly said about what Furcal’s return could mean for Gordon. “It is a decision we will make when we have to make it. [General Manager] Ned [Colletti] and I haven’t really even talked about it at this point.”
Furcal has been on the disabled list since the first week of June with an oblique injury. The Dodgers briefly discussed moving him to second base to keep Gordon on the major league roster, but Mattingly said last night that the idea has been shelved “for now.” Things could change if Furcal is eventually traded or more likely, if he suffers another injury. The 33-year-old shortstop has already been on the disabled list twice this season.
Gordon, 23, is batting .241/.259/.291 with a 16/2 K/BB ratio over his first 82 major league plate appearances. While he has struggled at the plate, he is 8-for-10 in stolen base attempts. He was credited with two stolen bases in the seventh inning last night against the Angels, including a theft of home plate.
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.