New York Mets Photo Day

Kirk Nieuwenhuis suffers knee injury

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Mets outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis, battling for a job in spring training, suffered a knee injury this afternoon during a game against the Miami Marlins. In the seventh inning, Nieuwenhuis attempted to steal second and came up limping. The 25-year-old says he simply bruised his left knee badly, but he had to be transported via cart from the dugout to the clubhouse.

More, from Adam Rubin:

“It was on the slide,” Nieuwenhuis said. “I just hit it on something. Hopefully it’s just a bad bruise. When I went to go take my lead, it just kind of buckled a little bit, but I think the ligaments are OK. I haven’t seen a doctor yet, but I think I just have got a bad bruise. … I don’t think it’s that bad.”

The Mets entered camp with a surfeit of questions surrounding their outfield and now must add one more. Jordany Valdespin, already helping himself with a .412 average in 17 spring at-bats, seems the likely successor in the absence of Nieuwenhuis. Valdespin, though, has been used exclusively at second base so far.

Nieuwenhuis impressed early in 2012, posting a .325 average in April. The struggles began to mount and his average plummeted, hitting .263 in May, .238 in June, and .105 in July. The Mets then optioned him to Triple-A Buffalo. After only five games, he had to be shelved with a nagging plantar fasciitis injury. The Mets certainly hope the lack of concern by Nieuwenhuis is more accurate than wishful thinking.

Rangers to sign James Loney to minor league deal

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - AUGUST 21: James Loney #28 of the New York Mets tosses to first base against the San Francisco Giants during the second inning at AT&T Park on August 21, 2016 in San Francisco, California.  The New York Mets defeated the San Francisco Giants 2-0. (Photo by Jason O. Watson/Getty Images)
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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.

Report: Tyson Ross not expected to pitch in April

SAN DIEGO, CA - SEPTEMBER 29:  Tyson Ross #38 of the San Diego Padres pitches during the first inning of a baseball game against the Milwaukee Brewers at Petco Park September 29, 2015 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
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Comments from an anonymous team official suggest that Rangers right-hander Tyson Ross will not be expected to join the rotation until May or June, per a report from Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Both Ross and GM Jon Daniels favor a conservative approach for the 29-year-old as he works his way back up to full health after undergoing surgery last October to relieve thoracic outlet syndrome.

The delay is reportedly being implemented so that Ross will be have the strength and stamina to contribute during the stretch run. Per Daniels:

We would rather err on a little extra time up front with the goal being to finish strong, pitching in big spots, meaningful games down the stretch and hopefully past 162.

Ross signed a one-year deal with the team on Thursday after pitching through an injury-riddled season with the Padres in 2016. If all goes according to plan, he’ll slot into a rotation that includes Yu Darvish, Cole Hamels, Andrew Cashner and Martin Perez. The Rangers are expected to narrow down their fifth starter alternatives in spring training.