I post this less to wallow in Jeter nostalgia — we got a lot of that these days — than I do to marvel at the fact that Derek Jeter’s first All-Star Game was in 1998.
If you would have asked me I would’ve bet an awful lot that he was in the Mid-Summer Classic before that. He was Rookie of the Year in 1996 and was a key cog in helping the Yankees win the World Series that year. He was a force in the AL playoffs that year and while his World Series numbers weren’t that good, there was this sense as you watched him that fall that he was Baseball’s Next Big Star.
But the mid-90s were a long time ago, and as we sit here now it’s easy to forget that that’s when a lot of amazing shortstops walked the Earth, especially in the American League. Cal Ripken had a vice-lock on the fan vote. Alex Rodriguez had already posted an amazing couple of seasons. Nomar Garciaparra broke onto the scene in 1997 (and Jeter’s 1997 was a down year for him) There was just so much darn competition at the position then.
So 1998 it was. And here, courtesy of MLB Productions, is what The Captain looked like back then:
The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.
Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”
Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”
The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.
There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.
Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.