Kevin Kernan of the New York Post sat down with Mets manager Terry Collins and talked about a number of challenges and decisions facing the team this spring. First and foremost: first base. Where Lucas Duda and Ike Davis are set to battle it out. It sounds like it’ll be a good battle.
Collins says it’s “wide open” and makes it clear that there won’t be a lot of hemming and hawing. Davis is going to get 90 at bats — way more than a veteran usually has in the spring — and it seems obvious that if he doesn’t produce he’s basically done as a Met. And if Duda is no better he’s prepared to move Daniel Murphy over to first base and put Eric Young at second base.
That’s tough on Davis and Duda I suppose, but it may be good for Mets fans. Collins is talking about his team and seems poised to make quick decisions as if it’s a contender. And while that may not be the majority opinion about the Mets this spring, it’s not too hard to squint and see them be more competitive than they’ve been in recent years.
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.