If you’re Alex Rodriguez you probably have to be smiling a bit about this report from Mike Fish of ESPN:
After months of negotiations and legal wrangling with the whistle-blower in the Biogenesis clinic scandal, Major League Baseball still hasn’t pried loose documents he took from the clinic. But within the past week, Porter Fischer, the clinic’s former marketing director, appeared before a federal grand jury in Miami and turned over the records, sources told “Outside the Lines.” … The grand jury appearance by Fischer and his turning over of documents is a clear sign that the scandal has gone beyond Major League Baseball’s intensive in-house probe and evolved into a federal law enforcement investigation that could potentially lead to criminal charges against individuals tied to the clinic and its distribution network, including Tony Bosch, the shuttered clinic’s founder who is cooperating in baseball’s investigation.
To sum up: Baseball doesn’t have the documents, but the government does. You know what’s really, really hard? Trying to get documents from the government that are part of a criminal investigation so that you can use them for your personal business purposes. Which is what baseball would have to do if it were to use Fischer’s documents in an arbitration against A-Rod.
So, why not just go to Tony Bosch, you ask? Well, according to this report he could very well face criminal indictment here. Know what else is really hard? Getting someone who is under a criminal indictment to go on the record in a civil arbitration admitting to all of the drug stuff he did. Which is something else baseball would have to do if it were to go hard after A-Rod in the arbitration.
None of which is to say that baseball’s case is dead. There are reportedly other witnesses, cell phone records and things already in their possession. But given how significant Bosch and Fisher are supposed to be, and given how there is a non-trivial risk that they could be put out of reach as evidence sources going forward, one has to wonder if anyone at MLB is nervous here.
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.