New York Yankees Photo Day

Derek Jeter is not your anti-PEDs avatar

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I have zero reason to think that Derek Jeter ever used PEDs. I’d personally be surprised if he did. As would I assume most people. But I also think that his use or lack thereof, absent any actual information about it, is pretty irrelevant to our consideration of him as a player. There’s plenty there to consider about the guy. God knows we’ve done a lot of that here in the past 24 hours or so.

But there are some people for whom Jeter’s actual track record is not enough. Some people for whom Jeter must be used as an avatar to fight the dragons and demons with which they preoccupy themselves. Bob Klapisch, for example. Who spends about half of his Jeter appreciation column going after PED users in general and Alex Rodriguez specifically.

Not only has Jeter served as the billboard of the beautiful war with the Red Sox, he has stood for success without chemicals, without the PEDs that Alex Rodriguez became so hopelessly addicted to. . . That would be Jeter’s last laugh on the steroid junkies, outlasting them all, outperforming their beloved chemicals.

Last laugh for Jeter, or for you, Bob? Because I recall absolutely zero instances of Derek Jeter inserting himself into a leadership or example role in the PED conversation the way you’d cast him now. If he had strong feelings about it he kept them to himself, just as he’s kept everything of actual substance to himself over the years.

In recent years Jeter has said all the right things — broad things — about cheating being bad. But in the past he also said things about supporting his teammates like Roger Clemens, Jason Giambi and, yes, Alex Rodriguez. At no time did he stand up in a union meeting in, say, 1999 and demand that the players submit to drug testing. He was like most other players who have not had PED suspicion about him: generally silent, but supportive of the way in which the conversation has progressed. He is not at all an outspoken leader like some other players. Rick Helling stood for success without chemicals, quite vocally. Jeter, as with most things, was cooler about it.

Which does absolutely nothing to diminish his standing as a player. The point is that all of that jabber like Klapisch brings up is beside the point. It is using Jeter as a means of fighting the battles he wants Jeter to fight for him, not for anything inherent in Jeter’s record or his legacy. It’s Klapisch’s way of trying to wrap up a morality play in which he is heavily invested with a nice happy ending. To use Jeter’s career as a referendum on people and things, frankly, Jeter probably cares very little about. Or, if he does, cares very little if you or I know about it.

Ultimately, using Jeter this way says a hell of a lot more about the people doing the using than it does about Derek Jeter.

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.