Vernon Wells hasn’t played much since coming off the disabled list because a) he’s been really bad since the beginning of last season, and b) the Angels have Mike Trout, Mark Trumbo, and Torii Hunter in the outfield.
In what limited playing time he has gotten Wells is 0-for-15 with five strikeouts and zero walks, but manager Mike Scioscia doesn’t seem to be buying into the whole “he needs to play regularly to be productive” talk, telling Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times:
You might not find a groove, but you have to have better at-bats. You might not get locked in, but it doesn’t mean you’re not going to contribute. Vernon should be on some pitches and hit the ball hard even with limited playing time. … You have to be able to get it done. That’s the bottom line.
Scioscia is right, of course. Playing once or twice a week obviously isn’t ideal for any hitter, but Wells put himself in that position by performing horribly while getting everyday playing time last season and at the beginning of this season.
He’s hit .218 with a ghastly .249 on-base percentage and .405 slugging percentage in 685 plate appearances and 173 games for the Angels and the only reason they haven’t cut Wells already is that he’s being paid $21 million this season and is owed $21 million in 2013 and 2014.
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.