White Sox manager Robin Ventura benched outfielder Alex Rios after failing to run out a ground ball double play in yesterday’s 6-4 loss to the Braves. Prior to this afternoon’s game, when he went 3-for-5 with five RBI including a grand slam, he had been scuffling, posting a .367 OPS since his 6-for-6 game against the Tigers on July 9.
Rios told the media he would have preferred Ventura pull him aside privately to discuss the matter, rather than make a public example out of him. From MLB.com’s Scott Merkin:
“If he wants to make a statement for the team, it probably worked,” Rios added. “I don’t know what his intentions were. But that’s what I wanted to see.”
Ventura didn’t respond harshly to Rios’ critique. In a matter-of-fact but direct tone, Ventura said the moment was handled and you go from there. He also understood Rios’ request for the one-on-one admonishment, but made the basic point that physical errors are acceptable, but the same can’t be said for lack of hustle.
“Again, you’re handling it for 25 guys,” Ventura said. “I get where he’s coming from, but from where I’m coming, he probably understands how I have to do it.
No matter the case, Rios may have a new manager before the beginning of August. His sudden disappearance last night prompted many to speculate that the Pirates and White Sox had agreed to a trade, and several other teams — including the Red Sox — have been linked to him recently as well. Rios, 32, is earning $12.5 million this year, will earn another $12.5 million in 2014, and has a $13.5 million club option with a $1 million buyout for 2015.
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.