Carlos Lee, who played last year with the Astros and Marlins, has announced his retirement at age 37 after 14 seasons in the majors.
Lee came up with the White Sox as a 23-year-old in 1999 and the man nicknamed “El Caballo” by Hawk Harrelson also played for the Brewers, Rangers Astros, and Marlins. He made three straight All-Star teams from 2005-2007, hit .285 with 358 homers and an .821 OPS in 2,099 games overall, and earned more than $130 million.
A rare power hitter who never struck out 100 times, Lee had five consecutive 30-homer seasons and 11 consecutive 20-homer seasons. He also stole double-digit bases in seven seasons despite looking like the last person you’d expect to do any running and was very durable, playing at least 140 games in all but one of his full seasons.
Among all right-handed hitters since 1990 he ranks 12th in RBIs, 15th in total bases, 16th in extra-base hits, 17th in hits, and 18th in homers, although Lee falls to 67th in Wins Above Replacement because defensive metrics show him as significantly below average in the outfield.
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.