Last season Mets manager Terry Collins was criticized for overusing rookie left-hander Scott Rice, who appeared in 73 of the team’s first 137 games before needing hernia surgery in early September.
This season Rice is struggling and Collins more or less admitted yesterday that he thinks it’s because of the huge 2013 workload, telling Adam Rubin of ESPN New York:
The guy pitched in 73 games last year. And a lot of times the next year, when you pitch in that many games for the first time in your life, your arm doesn’t bounce back real fast. It takes a little time. I’ve seen it where, unfortunately, you’ve got to go through it.
That’s sort of a “hey, what are you gonna do?” response to a question that I’m sure Rice at least feels probably deserves more thought. With that said, Rice was a 31-year-old rookie who finally made the big leagues after 14 years in the minors and, based on his lengthy track record there, it’s possible that he’s simply a borderline major leaguer. We may never know for sure, though, because Collins rode him so hard right away.
Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Royals and first baseman Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension. However, Hosmer also indicated that he will head into free agency if a deal is not consummated by Opening Day.
Hosmer, 27, avoided arbitration with the Royals last month, agreeing to a $12.25 million salary for the 2017 season. He is one of four key Royals players who can become a free agent after the season along with Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, and Lorenzo Cain. If Hosmer does reach free agency, he would arguably be the top free agent first baseman.
Hosmer finished the past season hitting .266/.328/.433 with 25 home runs and 104 RBI while making his first All-Star team.
Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, pending a physical. Assuming the deal is finalized, Sherman notes that the Yankees will have Niese work as both a starter and a reliever in big league camp this spring.
According to Sherman, the Yankees were interested in lefty relievers Jerry Blevins and Boone Logan, but didn’t want to commit at their asking prices. They are looking for a lefty set-up man along with Tommy Lane.
Niese, 30, pitched for the Pirates and Mets last season, finishing with a 5.50 ERA and an 88/47 K/BB ratio over 121 innings.