Jon Heyman has a news nugget in his latest column — Charlie Manuel will, in fact, be back at the helm in Philly next year — but I don’t think anyone ever doubted that. If they did, the recent run has put any such thoughts to rest, or should have. Say what you want about the 2012 Phillies, but if they fall short of the playoffs, it’s not Charlie Manuel’s fault.
The article is more interesting for the Ryne Sandberg talk. It comes up each year, but this year it’s earlier than usual: when is Ryne Sandberg going to get his shot at managing?
Heyman says that Sandberg is so well-liked in the Phillies front office that some people even thought that, rather than extend Manuel’s contract into 2013, they should have just given the job to Sandberg. Ruben Amaro shoots that down hard, but it’s no secret that Heyman knows people in the Philly front office. He tends to get scoops there.
In any event, yeah, it would seem that Sandberg is up next in Philly. I’d just not expect to hear anything more about it than what Heyman has to say, because baseball has a really bad history with heir apparent managers. Ray Knight in Cincinnati is one. The Yankees naming Billy Martin Bob Lemon’s successor mere days after Martin was fired in 1978 was another.
Baseball is a lot like the late night talk show business. You just can’t have a well-run operation with the next guy obviously and officially waiting in the wings to take over.
UPDATE: People are telling Will Carroll this too, by the way. From his Monday column:
Word out of Philly is that Charlie Manuel will retire after next season. Ryne Sandberg may shift to bench coach in order to make an easy transition …
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.