Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports that free agent outfielder Shane Victorino is drawing interest from at least seven teams, including the Reds, Indians, Yankees, Rangers, Giants, Rays and Red Sox. While that’s one less than was reported by Scott Lauber of the Boston Herald earlier this month, that’s a pretty healthy market.
Victorino is coming off his worst season in the big leagues, but Heyman hears that several teams are willing to offer him at least three years. That’s what happens when you have extensive experience in center field and represent a cheaper alternative to the likes of Michael Bourn and B.J. Upton. Of course, Victorino wouldn’t be a center fielder for all seven teams listed above, but he has expressed a willingness to play a corner outfield spot if the price is right.
Victorino, who turns 32 on Friday, batted .255/.321/.383 with 11 home runs, 55 RBI and a .704 OPS this past season between the Phillies and Dodgers. He was an excellent 39-for-45 in stolen base attempts.
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.