Kenley Jansen underwent surgery last week to address his irregular heartbeat and the Dodgers closer felt good enough to participate in a charity event yesterday.
Jansen has missed time during the past two seasons because of the irregular heartbeat and was forced to take blood thinners this season, but told Ken Gurnick of MLB.com that he already feels significantly different:
I feel so much better now than I did at the end of the season. I was dragging all day long at the end. I can tell I’ve got so much more energy. … I’m feeling so good. It wasn’t scary at all. I just wanted to get it over with. I feel it’s a relief and it will be good for me for the rest of my life. I just wanted to get it done, and I know this doctor is one of the great experts and I have a lot of confidence in him.
That’s great to hear, because Jansen is an incredible pitcher and at age 25 has an extremely bright future ahead of him as one of the most dominant relievers in baseball. That he’s been able to post a 2.22 ERA with 14.6 strikeouts per nine innings despite his energy level waning should be a pretty scary thought for NL hitters.
With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.
For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.
Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.
Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.
Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.
The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.