It might be time to write off Daniel Bard for the rest of the year.
The 27-year-old righty walked four of the five batters he faced Tuesday in his appearance for Triple-A Pawtucket. He’s walked 10 and giving up eight runs in 4 2/3 innings this month.
Bard was throwing better towards the end of July, allowing just an unearned run and two walks over five innings in his last five appearances of the month. August has been a different story, though. The feeling is that Bard’s struggles are the result of both poor mechanics and a lack of confidence. He hasn’t gone full-on Rick Ankiel, but some of it is mental.
“There were some outings I was really frustrated afterward, and it was like, ‘Where do I go from here?’” Bard said earlier this month. “It kind of gives you that light at the end of the tunnel. I’m healthy, I’ve done this before, I’m going to do it again in the near future.”
Overall, Bard has allowed 24 earned runs in 28 innings for Pawtucket, giving him a 7.71 ERA. He’s struck out 30 and walked 27.
In case you were wondering, Mark Prior, too, is having some control problems at Pawtucket. He’s walked 13 batters in his last nine outings, and his ERA is on the rise. He has a 4.01 ERA and a 38/23 K/BB ratio in 24 2/3 innings over his 18 appearances.
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.