UPDATE: So much for that. Fielder was just scratched from the lineup again.
Prince Fielder’s consecutive games played streak ended up 547 over the weekend when he missed back-to-back games with a herniated disk in his neck, but the Rangers first baseman is back in the lineup tonight against the Mariners.
T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com reports that Fielder “received a nerve-blocking injection to help the problem” and he’ll actually play designated hitter rather than first base in his first game back to lessen the risk of aggravating the injury.
Fielder has had a huge power drought in his first season in Texas, managing just three homers and a .360 slugging percentage through 42 games. He’s also hitting just .247 and despite more walks (25) than strikeouts (24) his .360 on-base percentage is well below his career norms.
The Mets signed left-hander Matt Purke to a minor league deal, the team announced Friday. Purke will also receive an invitation to spring training, where he could presumably beef up the club’s left-handed relief options alongside Jerry Blevins and Josh Smoker.
Purke has not appeared in the majors since 2016, when he was used in a dozen relief appearances by the White Sox. The 27-year-old racked up a 5.50 ERA, 6.0 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 in his first 18 innings with the team, and was demoted to Triple-A Charlotte in June to finish out the season. He spent the entire 2017 season in Triple-A as well, showing more promise with a 3.84 ERA, 3.8 BB/9 and 11.0 SO/9 in 48 appearances.
While Purke may not amount to much more than a depth piece in New York’s ‘pen, the veteran lefty figures to be part of the Mets’ new bullpen-first strategy next year. Reports from MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo indicate that the club will be focusing on improving their relief options in order to ease the workload of their starting pitchers, and will likely add a few more arms before the offseason comes to a close.