Davey Johnson has gone 38-42 since taking over for Jim Riggleman as Nationals manager and every indication is that he’ll be retained for 2012, but before that happens general manager Mike Rizzo will go through the process of a manager search.
Yesterday the GM told Mark Zuckerman of CSNWashington.com that “we’ve got a very streamlined group of high quality candidates that we’re going to talk to” and “I anticipate the process being much quicker, because we’ve already identified a lot of the candidates that we’re going to talk to.”
In other words, Johnson may not have to wait very long to find out if he gets to keep the job, although he apparently will have to interview for the full-time gig just like everyone else.
Zuckerman writes that Johnson “is the heavy favorite” and notes that Rizzo may have signed him to a multi-year managing contract months ago if MLB didn’t require the Nationals “to conduct full, formal managerial searches that include minority candidates.” Instead he signed a three-year “consultant” deal that covers various possible roles.
“I love Davey,” Rizzo told Zuckerman. “He’s going to be back next year in some capacity, either as the manager of the ball club or have a big say as to who is the manager of the ball club.” Nationals third base coach Bo Porter and Triple-A manager Randy Knorr will be among the non-Johnson candidates to interview, but this is clearly his job to lose.
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.