This isn’t a full-blown Terry Collins situation — Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez didn’t offer a serious tirade or anything — but he made a point to voice his displeasure yesterday about two players who didn’t show up to spring training early: Jordan Schafer and Tyler Pastornicky. Dave O’Brein got Gonzalez’s joking-but-pointed comments:
“We’re waiting for [Pastornicky] again this year. Schafer probably has a tough time getting travel arrangements. He’s another one I’m going to grab. He only lives two exits up the road here; I haven’t seen him yet … I didn’t know he signed a deal with Frank – he’s got a five-year deal, guarantee to play one of the three outfield spots.”
Position player reporting day was not until today, but Gonzalez went on to say how he told them both that it would be in their best interests to show up early.
Which, yes, it probably would given that neither Schafer nor Pastornicky have secure jobs on the team. I presume that if you or I were in their situation we’d show up early too because we’re sensible folk who don’t like to leave that much to chance.
Still, the shop steward in me bristles when I hear managers going on like this. There’s a reporting date for a reason. If a guy shows up on time, he’s on time. Doing that bare minimum doesn’t make him a great worker. It doesn’t do him any favors. But I’d hope it would exempt him from public reprimand like this.
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.