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Starlin Castro hopes to stay with the Cubs

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When the Cubs acquired top prospect shortstop Addison Russell from the Athletics in the Jeff Samardzija/Jason Hammel deal last month, many assumed that it likely signified the beginning of the end for Starlin Castro in Chicago. One potential destination is the Mets, who have a need for a shortstop and match up as a good trade partner for the Cubs since they have plenty of young pitching to offer. With the Cubs in Queens for a three-game series against the Mets this weekend, it’s only natural that Castro is being asked about the possibility, but he told Patrick Mooney of CSNChicago.com that he hopes to stay with the Cubs.

“Of course I want to stay here,” Castro said. “I want to be part of the team when we make the playoffs and we have a good team that can compete every year.”

Castro politely listened to the New York reporter asking if he’s willing to change positions if that means staying in Chicago. The shortstop’s on track to post a career-high in fielding percentage (.977), while his errors have declined steadily across the last four seasons, from 29 to 27 to 22 to 12 so far this year.

“I think I showed a lot of people that I can be good at my position,” Castro said. “Again, I don’t have the control (over that). But I think a lot of people see – and a lot of people know – that I can handle that position.”

After regressing last season, Castro has bounced back this year by batting .286/.335/.429 with 12 home runs and 63 RBI over 121 games. He doesn’t turn 25 until next March and still has five years remaining on the seven-year, $60 million extension he signed with the Cubs in August of 2012. His contract also includes a club option for 2020.

Mets leaning on Jay Bruce, Neil Walker as Lucas Duda insurance

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - MAY 12:  Pinch hitter Lucas Duda #21 of the New York Mets walks back to the dugout after striking out for the first out of the ninth inning against Clayton Kershaw #22 of the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on May 12, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  The Dodgers won 5-0.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
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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.

Jason Kipnis diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff

CLEVELAND, OH - NOVEMBER 02:  Jason Kipnis #22 of the Cleveland Indians celebrates after scoring a run on a wild pitch thrown by Jon Lester #34 of the Chicago Cubs (not pictured) during the fifth inning in Game Seven of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on November 2, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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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.