Over the off-season, the Twins announced they were moving Joe Mauer from behind the plate to first base, a decision meant to alleviate the day-to-day physical stress their $184 million man had gone through, particularly recently. Mauer suffered a concussion last season from a foul tip and has also had back problems from time to time.
Mauer played at first base for the first time during spring training. Per MLB.com’s Rhett Bollinger, Mauer didn’t experience any issues and felt comfortable out there.
“It felt a little different,” Mauer said. “I’ve never actually played first base here at Spring Training, so I was a little worried about seeing the ball off the bat. It’s a little bright out there, so it was nice I was able to get a ball in the first inning and make a play.”
Mauer also went 1-for-2 with an RBI to top off his afternoon. Mauer, 30, has played in 115 or more games just once in the last three years, so if the Twins can get him to play close to a full season, they should be able to recapture any value lost from the position switch.
The Braves reportedly have a deal in place with free agent catcher Kurt Suzuki, per Chris Cotillo of SB Nation. FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal adds that the contract is for one year, $1.5 million with up to $2.5 million in additional incentives.
Suzuki, 33, completed a three-year track with the Twins in 2016, slashing .258/.301/.403 with eight home runs in 373 PA. The veteran backstop likely won’t provide an offensive or defensive upgrade over current starter Tyler Flowers, but should give the Braves some depth at a position they’ve been looking to strengthen since the start of the offseason.
The team has yet to confirm the deal.
With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.
For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.
Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.