On Tuesday, it was reported that White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu was “not too crazy about” participating in the Home Run Derby. The slugger, who has participated in home run derbies in Cuba, worries that the contest would have a negative effect on his mechanics.
Well, hold the phone. As MLB.com’s Jamie Ross reports, Abreu has asked American League captain Jose Bautista to keep the lines of communication open.
“He’s a little hesitant because he’s done a couple of them in the past and he hasn’t fared too well,” Bautista said. “He feels like it messes up his swing a little bit. But he did tell me it’s not 100-percent no, to keep the communication lines open with him and see what happens. I’m definitely doing that because I think the fans deserve to watch him.”
At the conclusion of Sunday’s action, Abreu remains tied for the major league lead in home runs with Orioles outfielder Nelson Cruz and Blue Jays first baseman Edwin Encarnacion at 25. Abreu ripped a pair of dingers against the Blue Jays on Friday. Overall, Abreu is slashing .279/.328/.625 with 64 RBI, tied for the third-best in the majors.
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.
Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.
Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.
The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.