Joe Girardi cast some doubt on Derek Jeter’s ability to return from a broken ankle by Opening Day, saying yesterday that “there’s a little bit of a question” about whether he’ll be recovered in time to be in the Yankees’ lineup.
Jeter broke his left ankle in Game 1 of the ALCS and underwent surgery on October 20, with initial reports pegging his recovery timetable as 4-5 months. That would mean returning during spring training and Girardi stressed that he believes Jeter “will find a way” to do that, but also admitted it’s no sure thing “because of the rehab and you have to get the full strength and maybe you’re not able to start doing the things you normally would in January.”
Not mentioned by Girardi is that even if Jeter is healthy enough to start playing in spring training and able to be in the Yankees’ lineup for Opening Day the odds of him picking up right where he left off defensively as a 39-year-old shortstop coming back from a broken ankle seem pretty long. And of course while Jeter has five Gold Glove awards the last of those came in 2010 and his defense has long been viewed as a negative based on advanced metrics.
Simply by being a 38-year-old everyday shortstop and by hitting .316 following back-to-back seasons in which he appeared to be declining offensively Jeter has bucked the odds in a huge way already, but Girardi having doubts about his ability to continuing doing so following a broken ankle definitely seem sensible.
Former Mets catcher Johnny Monell signed a contract with the KT Wiz of the Korea Baseball Organization, per a report by Chris Cotillo of SB Nation. The 30-year-old originally struck a deal with the NC Dinos on Thursday, but the deal appeared to fall through at the last minute, according to Cotillo’s unnamed source.
Monell last surfaced for the Mets during their 2015 run, batting a dismal .167/.231/.208 with two extra bases in 52 PA before the club DFA’d him to clear space for Bartolo Colon. While he’s had difficulty sticking at the major league level, he’s found a higher degree of success in the minor league circuit and holds a career .271 average over a decade of minor league play. He played exclusively in Triple-A Las Vegas during the 2016 season, slashing .276/.336/.470 with 19 home runs and a career-high 75 RBI in 461 PA.
The veteran backstop appears to be the second MLB player to join the KT Wiz roster this offseason, as right-hander Donn Roach also signed with the club last month on a one-year, $850,000 deal.
Brewers’ right-hander Phil Bickford received a 50-game suspension after testing positive for a drug of abuse, per the Los Angeles Times’ Bill Shaikin. This is the second time Bickford has been suspended for recreational drug use, as he was previously penalized in 2015 after testing positive for marijuana prior to the amateur draft.
Bickford was selected by the Giants in the first round of the 2015 draft and was later dealt to the Brewers for lefty reliever Will Smith at the 2016 trade deadline. He finished his 2016 campaign in High-A Brevard County, pitching to a 3.67 ERA, 10.0 K/9 rate and 5.0 BB/9 over 27 innings.
Two other suspensions were handed down on Friday, one to Toronto minor league right-hander Pedro Loficial for a positive test for metabolites of Stanozolol and one to Miami minor league outfielder Casey Soltis for a second positive test for drugs of abuse. Loficial will serve a 72-game suspension, while Soltis will serve 50 games. All three suspensions are due to start at the beginning of the 2017 season for each respective minor league team.
Brewers’ GM David Stearns issued a statement after the Commissioner’s Office announced Bickford’s suspension (via Vince Lara-Cinisomo of Baseball America):
We are very disappointed to learn of Phil’s suspension, but we fully support the Minor League Baseball Drug Prevention and Testing Program and its enforcement by the Commissioner’s Office. Phil understands he made a mistake, and we fully anticipate that he will learn from this experience.