Two-thirds of MLB teams now employ an assistant hitting coach, as the Mets have become the 20th team to join the trend by adding Luis Natera to manager Terry Collins’ coaching staff.
Natera has been in the organization for two decades, including the past seven seasons as the Double-A hitting coach. They created the position for him and the timing of doing it right before Opening Day is interesting.
He’ll work under primary hitting coach Dave Hudgens, who’s in his third season with that gig for the Mets.
I picture Natera showing up to Mets camp today, saying something like “it’s great to join you guys as the assistant hitting coach!” and Hudgens interrupting to say “uh, that’s assistant to the hitting coach.” Except, unfortunately, there’s probably a strong chance Mets camp isn’t like “The Office.”
Royals’ Opening Day starter Danny Duffy weathered a minor scare during Saturday’s Cactus League game against the Diamondbacks. The left-hander was removed from his final spring training start after experiencing some left shoulder tightness in the second and third innings. No lasting damage appears to have been done — Duffy told reporters that he simply felt a slight ache, nothing more — and it looks like he’ll remain on track to open the season with the team next Thursday.
The 29-year-old southpaw is coming off one of his best performances to date. Despite losing a few weeks to an oblique strain and elbow soreness, he went 9-10 in 24 starts and finished the 2017 season with a 3.81 ERA, 2.5 BB/9 and 8.0 SO/9 over 146 1/3 innings. While Duffy entered camp with a clean bill of health, he struggled to execute against his spring training opponents and racked up 13 runs, four homers, seven walks and 11 strikeouts in 13 innings of Cactus League play.
The Royals are scheduled to kick off their home opener against the White Sox on Thursday, March 29 at 4:15 PM ET. Barring any further complications with his shoulder, Duffy will take the mound for the Royals, while James Shields is expected to make his first Opening Day appearance for the White Sox.