The press releases keep on coming:
New York Mets starting pitcher Matt Harvey has been voted National League Pitcher of the Month for the month of April. Harvey recorded four victories (4-0) in six April starts, tying him for first among N.L. pitchers. The young right-hander ranked among league leaders in nearly every pitching category. His 1.56 ERA (7 ER/40.1 IP) ranked third, his 46 strikeouts tied for fourth, and his 40.1 innings of work were the fifth-most by an N.L. hurler in the first full calendar month of the 2013 championship season.
Starting pitcher Clay Buchholz of the Boston Red Sox has been voted American League Pitcher of the Month for April. Buchholz compiled a perfect 5-0 record with a 1.19 ERA, 39 strikeouts and 13 walks in 37.2 innings pitched over five starts to help the Red Sox match the all-time Club record with 18 wins in April (also 1998 and 2003) and close out the inaugural month with the best record in the Majors at 18-8. This is Clay’s second career Pitcher of the Month Award, previously accomplishing the honor for August 2010.
Harvey is must-see viewing when he pitches. Just amazing stuff. Easily my favorite Met in many moons. Buchholz is reminding us that, for as bad that 2012 Sox were, it wasn’t like it was going to take massive miracles for them to bounce back. He has always been a guy capable of being this kind of ace. It was merely a matter of health and good fortune before it happened again like it did in 2010.
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.