As Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun tells us, the Orioles made a bit of a surprise move today by sending rookie left-hander Zach Britton to Double-A Bowie to make room for left-hander Mark Hendrickson on the active roster.
The move comes on the heels of Britton giving up a career-high seven runs over just two-thirds of an inning in last night’s blowout loss to the Red Sox.
Britton, 23, is 6-7 with a 4.05 ERA over 18 starts this season, but has allowed 17 runs in 17 1/3 innings over his last four starts. There’s a very real chance that he’s hitting a bit of a wall right now. He’s currently at 104 1/3 innings and is on pace for just under 200 innings. His previous professional high was 153 1/3 innings between Double-A Bowie and Triple-A Norfolk last season.
Zrebiec writes that Britton is slated to pitch “a couple of innings” for Double-A Bowie on the 15th and should be back up in the Orioles’ rotation by the 30th. Not only is it a strategic decision to delay his service time, but it puts him in position to make it through most of September with the big club.
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.