Yesterday we learned that Orel Hershisher is leaving ESPN to take a job broadcasting Dodgers games. Because, for some reason, ESPN thinks that a three-man booth is good for baseball (it isn’t) they felt obligated to fill Hershiser’s spot. And because, for some reason, ESPN thinks Curt Schilling is someone people want to listen to (he isn’t) they have given him the gig. Schilling will become a Sunday Night Baseball analyst alongside play-by-play commentator Dan Shulman and his former Phillies teammate John Kruk.
Schilling is not dumb and, in the studio, he is capable of making good points from time-to-time. He also, however, (a) tends to fall back on cliche at a pretty high rate; and (b) has a habit of trying to say too much in too short a time and his voice gets high and strained and, frankly, it’s kind of exhausting to listen to him for a long time. One wonders how he’ll sound over the course of a three-hour broadcast.
The bigger issue here is the insistence by ESPN on having a three-man booth. It leads to exceedingly long stretches of conversation among the broadcasters, with everyone trying to say things to justify their existence in the booth which, in turn, causes them to ignore game action for several minutes at a time. I mean, say what you want about Joe Morgan, but at least when it was him and Jon Miller in the booth they talked about the game going on in front of them. Now? Sunday Night Baseball is often unwatchable or, at the very least, unlistenable. Adding Schilling does nothing to remedy that.
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.