Forget that Josh Collmenter had a 3.59 ERA in his 24 starts as a rookie last season. If many Diamondbacks fans had their way, he would have been demoted to the pen before 2012 even opened.
Those calls will only get louder now. Collmenter followed up a Cactus League season in which he went 0-4 with a 9.95 ERA by giving up six runs — five earned — in three innings Sunday against the Giants.
The case against Collmenter wasn’t personal, but Diamondbacks fans are undoubtedly excited to see what pitching prospects Patrick Corbin, Tyler Skaggs and, especially, Trevor Bauer can do. Much of Collmenter’s rookie success was credited to his deceptive windup, something that hitters figure to get more accustomed to this year. Collmenter throws just 86-89 mph and lacks a plus breaking ball to go along with his fine changeup, so if hitters start seeing the ball better against him, they’ll likely knock him around pretty good. The Giants certainly had his number today, with Buster Posey taking him deep and light-weights Gregor Blanco and Brandon Crawford picking up doubles.
It seems like only a matter of time before Collmenter is shifted to the pen. But the Diamondbacks will face an interesting decision when that happens. Corbin, Skaggs and Bauer are all in Double-A right now, and the team would likely prefer not to have to turn to any of them before June. Wade Miley might get the spot on a temporary basis. He relieved Collmenter today and pitched four hitless innings to get the Diamondbacks back into the game.
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.