Joe Torre managed the Yankees from 1996 to 2007, coinciding with the vast majority of shortstop Derek Jeter’s playing career. If anyone knows the guy, it’s Torre. Jeter is coming off of an injury-plagued 2013 season, logging a meager 73 plate appearances in 17 games. Because of his age (39) and questionable ability to stay healthy going forward, many solutions to the Jeter “problem” have been suggested, such as using him as a full-time DH, moving him to third base in the event Alex Rodriguez is suspended for the 2014 season, or signing a full-time shortstop and reducing Jeter’s role.
As Brendan Kuty of NJ.com writes, Torre thinks Jeter would take a reduced role if he was convinced it would help the team.
But Joe Torre said he thinks if Jeter feels he’s not playing up to his standards, he might consider a reduced part.
Jeter “will play baseball as long as he’s benefitting the team, whatever the role,” Torre said, speaking outside the 11th anniversary gala for the Joe Torre Safe at Home Foundation in Chelsea.
Jeter led the league in hits as recently as 2012, logging 216 of them in 740 plate appearances over 159 games at the age of 38. Although the skepticism over his health is warranted, it wouldn’t be shocking if he was able to regain his previous form. Jeter is a free agent after the 2014 season, which may signal his retirement.
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.
Comments from an anonymous team official suggest that Rangers right-hander Tyson Ross will not be expected to join the rotation until May or June, per a report from Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Both Ross and GM Jon Daniels favor a conservative approach for the 29-year-old as he works his way back up to full health after undergoing surgery last October to relieve thoracic outlet syndrome.
The delay is reportedly being implemented so that Ross will be have the strength and stamina to contribute during the stretch run. Per Daniels:
We would rather err on a little extra time up front with the goal being to finish strong, pitching in big spots, meaningful games down the stretch and hopefully past 162.
Ross signed a one-year deal with the team on Thursday after pitching through an injury-riddled season with the Padres in 2016. If all goes according to plan, he’ll slot into a rotation that includes Yu Darvish, Cole Hamels, Andrew Cashner and Martin Perez. The Rangers are expected to narrow down their fifth starter alternatives in spring training.