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Matt Kemp remains “in play” for the Red Sox

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It was reported two weeks ago that the Red Sox had checked in on the availability of Dodgers outfielder Matt Kemp and Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe reports that he remains “in play” as a potential trade target for Boston.

A potential match makes sense on paper, as the Dodgers have a surplus of outfielders and the Red Sox might not be ready to hand a starting job to Jackie Bradley, Jr. following the departure of Jacoby Ellsbury. Cafardo hears that the Dodgers would be willing to absorb some of the six years and $128 million remaining on Kemp’s contract in the right deal. Kemp is coming off two injury-plagued years, so the big question is how much would be enough to get the Red Sox interested.

Kemp’s agent, Dave Stewart, told Gordon Edes of ESPN Boston that he has discussed the possibility of a trade to the Red Sox with his client. His comments were pretty interesting.

“Boston is a good place,” said Stewart, a message 180 degrees removed from what Kemp’s teammate, Crawford, said repeatedly after being traded by the Sox in 2012. “It’s a good city to play in, especially when they’re winning championships.

“I’m 56 years old, and people are still buying me dinner there, and I played for the other team. I told Matt about the city. The key to playing in the city is to perform. Compete, play good-quality baseball, don’t dog it. If you don’t perform, nobody’s going to like it.”

Stewart said he believes Kemp would have no reservations about playing for the Red Sox. “And the opportunity to play with Big Papi, he’d love to play with him, learn from him.”

Stewart isn’t sitting in on trade discussions, so he’s just speculating like the rest of us. Still, he has a “strong feeling that something could happen” at next week’s Winter Meetings. Kemp’s contract does not include a no-trade clause, so the Dodgers would not need him to sign off on a deal.

Mets leaning on Jay Bruce, Neil Walker as Lucas Duda insurance

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MAY 12:  Pinch hitter Lucas Duda #21 of the New York Mets walks back to the dugout after striking out for the first out of the ninth inning against Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on May 12, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  The Dodgers won 5-0.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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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.

Jason Kipnis diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Jason Kipnis #22 of the Cleveland Indians celebrates after scoring a run on a wild pitch thrown by Jon Lester #34 of the Chicago Cubs (not pictured) during the fifth inning in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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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.