Kirk Nieuwenhuis suffers knee injury

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Mets outfielder Kirk Nieuwenhuis, battling for a job in spring training, suffered a knee injury this afternoon during a game against the Miami Marlins. In the seventh inning, Nieuwenhuis attempted to steal second and came up limping. The 25-year-old says he simply bruised his left knee badly, but he had to be transported via cart from the dugout to the clubhouse.

More, from Adam Rubin:

“It was on the slide,” Nieuwenhuis said. “I just hit it on something. Hopefully it’s just a bad bruise. When I went to go take my lead, it just kind of buckled a little bit, but I think the ligaments are OK. I haven’t seen a doctor yet, but I think I just have got a bad bruise. … I don’t think it’s that bad.”

The Mets entered camp with a surfeit of questions surrounding their outfield and now must add one more. Jordany Valdespin, already helping himself with a .412 average in 17 spring at-bats, seems the likely successor in the absence of Nieuwenhuis. Valdespin, though, has been used exclusively at second base so far.

Nieuwenhuis impressed early in 2012, posting a .325 average in April. The struggles began to mount and his average plummeted, hitting .263 in May, .238 in June, and .105 in July. The Mets then optioned him to Triple-A Buffalo. After only five games, he had to be shelved with a nagging plantar fasciitis injury. The Mets certainly hope the lack of concern by Nieuwenhuis is more accurate than wishful thinking.

Sign-stealing penalties could be ‘unlike anything seen in the sport’s recent history’

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Early this morning we learned that Major League Baseball was planning to talk to former Astros Carlos Beltrán and Alex Cora as part of the sign-stealing investigation. Late this morning Jeff Passan of ESPN reported that the investigation is, actually, going to go much wider than that.

Passan reports that Major League Baseball will not limit its focus to the 2017 Astros, who were the subject of the report in The Athletic on Tuesday. Rather, it will also include members of the 2019 Astros and will extend to other teams as well. Passan specifically mentions the 2018 Red Sox which, of course, were managed by Alex Cora one year after he left Houston, where he was A.J. Hinch’s bench coach.

Oh, it also includes recently-fired Astros assistant general manager Brandon Taubman, who the league plans to interview but who, Passan says, has hired a lawyer. Which is sort of interesting in its own right, but let’s stay on topic.

Passan:

The league is attempting to cull tangible evidence from the widespread paranoia of front offices and teams around the game about others cheating and has indicated it will consider levying long suspensions against interviewees who are found to have lied, sources said . . . The penalties for illegal activity are determined by commissioner Rob Manfred, though if the league can prove wrongdoing, the severity could be unlike anything seen in the sport’s recent history, sources said.

The Cardinals were fined $2 million when an employee, Chris Correa, hacked the Astros computer system. Correa, of course, was permanently banned from baseball and served prison time. Former Braves GM John Coppolella was likewise given a permanent ban for lying about the team’s circumvention of international signing rules. If Passan’s source is right and the league is going to level heavy penalties here, that’s where you have to start, I imagine.

To me, the stuff about Coppolella’s lying and the bit about interviewees lying mentioned in the block quote is key.

Will anyone have the hammer brought down upon them for being responsible for stealing signs? Hard to say. But they likely will if they are not forthcoming with league investigators. Which is actually a pretty decent way to handle things when one is conducting an internal investigation. Maybe you don’t give amnesty to wrongdoers in the name of information-gathering, but you do signal to them that cooperation is incentivized and lack of cooperation will be punished.

It’s an approach, by the way, that Major League Baseball notably did not take in the course of its PED investigations a decade ago. That led to a final report that had massive gaps in information and caused the league to focus on and publicize only the lowest-hanging fruit. As I argued at the time, if information-gathering, as opposed to P.R. considerations was its true aim, MLB would’ve handled it differently.

In the early stages here, in contrast, it does sound like baseball is taking this seriously. That’s a good thing.