This is of little consolation to Nationals fans after the club lost in heartbreaking fashion during the NLDS against the Cardinals, but it turns out that Drew Storen wasn’t quite at 100 percent when the season came crashing down. In fact, CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman hears that Storen was pitching through “excruciating” back pain.
It might have been easy at some point during interview after interview he has done this winter and spring to let slip that he was having terrible back pain in Game 5, that he’d spend much of the final three days in the trainers room receiving treatment for back spasms others described as unbearable. Not him, though. Storen wouldn’t say a thing about it. Still won’t. Not really.
Storen merely said that he “wanted to be out there” and that he “grinded,” but Jayson Werth was a bit more forthcoming.
“He was having real bad back spasms. That was the third day (pitching) in a row,” teammate Jayson Werth said. “He was banged up, man. No one knew. For him to just have the balls to go out there, that says a lot about him.”
“I’m not blaming his injury,” Werth said. “He just wasn’t healthy.”
Werth said that “no one knew,” but if Storen was getting treatment during the series, I’m going to assume that manager Davey Johnson was aware of it. And that makes it all the more curious that Storen pitched in an 8-0 loss in Game 3 despite the distinct possibility that he could be needed in the next two games. Again, doesn’t matter much now, but it’s interesting to think about now that we have some added context.
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.