Many were surprised when SI’s Jon Heyman reported earlier today that the Cubs were interested in hiring Padres general manager Jed Hoyer. Now it makes a lot of sense.
According to Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com, Theo Epstein is “actively looking” to hire a general manager, a move that would enable him to become the Cubs’ president of baseball operations.
It’s unclear whether Hoyer would want to join Epstein in Chicago or whether San Diego would grant him permission to leave. Hoyer, who worked with the Red Sox for eight years before being hired as Padres GM in October of 2009, is under contract through 2013 with a club option for 2014. The Cubs are still negotiating compensation with the Red Sox for Epstein, but it’s possible they could find themselves in another compensation situation with San Diego.
One interesting twist is that the Padres have a potential in-house replacement for Hoyer in the form of Josh Byrnes. He served as vice president of baseball operations this season and formerly worked as Diamondbacks GM under Jeff Moorad, who is now the majority owner of the Padres.
Of course, Byrnes has also been mentioned as a possible assistant to Epstein in Chicago, so this could go any number of directions in the coming days.
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.