Baseball’s book of unwritten rules just got a little fatter and a little more unkempt. In a battle of Colbys, Rangers starter Colby Lewis is upset that Blue Jays outfielder Colby Rasmus laid down a bunt with his team up 2-0 with two outs in the bottom of the fifth inning of Saturday’s game. Rasmus placed the ball to the third base side of the mound and reached safely, but was stranded after Dan Johnson struck out.
Lewis took the loss as the Rangers fell 4-1. He allowed two runs on eight hits and three walks while striking out five in five innings of work. He is now 6-7 with a 6.37 ERA and a 78/29 K/BB ratio in 89 innings over 17 starts.
Lewis explained why he took offense to the bunt after the game. Via MLB.com’s Chris Toman:
“I told [Rasmus] I didn’t appreciate it,” Lewis said. “You’re up by two runs with two outs and you lay down a bunt. I don’t think that’s the way the game should be played.”
When pressed further on what the problem with Rasmus’ bunt was, Lewis insinuated that the outfielder put himself before his team.
“I felt like you have a situation where there is two outs, you’re up two runs, you have gotten a hit earlier in the game off me, we are playing the shift, and he laid down a bunt basically simply for average,” Lewis said.
Lewis also explained that, because Rasmus didn’t attempt to steal on either of the first two pitches Lewis threw to Johnson, Rasmus was simply looking to pad his batting average. Following the game, in which he went 2-for-4, Rasmus is batting .223. He has yet to attempt to steal a base this season.
Lewis could have been steaming from the beating he took at the hands of the Angels on July 10. He allowed 13 runs in 2 1/3 innings in his final start before the All-Star break. One thing is for sure: his line of reasoning sure doesn’t make any sense. If Rangers pitchers don’t want to deal with bunts, then they shouldn’t be employing infield shifts. Rasmus was doing what he felt gave him the best chance to reach base and thus give his team the best chance of padding the lead.
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.