Jayson Stark reports that interest in Hunter Pence is “exploding” since the Carlos Beltran trade went down. Mark Berman of Fox confirms, noting that as many as six teams are inquiring about Pence’s services.I guess that means a lot of teams are hot for him, huh?
The teams Stark mentions are all of the usual looking-for-offense suspects we’ve been hearing about these past couple of weeks: the Phillies, Braves, Reds and Red Sox. Berman reports that there are two other AL teams interested, but doesn’t name them. Of course, some people think that the Reds should be selling and going young. And most people agree that offense is not the Red Sox’ biggest problem. Maybe, then, we should take Philly and Atlanta most seriously as suitors.
Last week there were reports that the Astros were either unwilling to trade Pence or had to be bowled over. Stark says that the Astros have an open mind, however. And now that the price has been set for a big bat at the deadline — a top prospect for Carlos Beltran — a deal may be more doable than it was 48 hours ag0 when everyone was adrift at sea.
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.