Mike Trout started the 2013 season hitting second in the Angels’ lineup, but moved to the #3 spot when Albert Pujols went on the disabled list in late July. He produced similarly in both spots, posting a 1.015 in 405 plate appearances in the two-hole, and a .963 OPS in 223 PA batting third.
With Pujols reportedly feeling fine, Trout is likely to move back to second in the order, reports Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register.
Some, citing Trout’s otherworldly .432 on-base percentage, have suggested the AL’s back-to-back runner-up MVP should lead off, but manager Mike Scioscia isn’t a fan of the idea.
“I don’t think we’re going to rule out anything with Mike, but if he’s hitting first, there’s no doubt you need a hitter behind him who’s going to give him the protection he needs, to where it’s not as routine (to walk him) as you saw last year,” Scioscia said.
Scioscia said Kole Calhoun could be one candidate to take over the lead-off spot. The Angels toyed with their lineup a lot over the course of the 2013 season, leading off with J.B. Shuck 64 times, Erick Aybar 46 times, the now-departed Peter Bourjos 20 times; as well as Trout 18, Calhoun six, Collin Cowgill five, and Alberto Callaspo three times.
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.