Less than two weeks ago when Brett Lawrie returned from the disabled list the Blue Jays decided to shift him from third base to second base, with manager John Gibbons saying all sorts of stuff about how he envisioned Lawrie and Jose Reyes forming an excellent double-play duo for years to come.
Lawrie hadn’t played second base since 2010 in the minors and apparently he won’t be playing there for the rest of the season, because after six games as a second baseman the Blue Jays have decided to shift him back to third base.
Gibbons indicated that Lawrie playing second base next season remains an option, but explained the quick change of mind to Mike Rutsey of the Toronto Sun:
I was watching the game last night and hey, I’m dumb but not stupid. We always have a right to change our mind. We’ll see how it plays out. We don’t have all the answers, we never claimed to have all the answers. Maybe it is smarter to leave him there.
“I’m dumb but not stupid” and “we never claimed to have all the answers” aren’t exactly reassuring quotes from a manager, but hey, it was fun while it lasted.
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.