The Mets offense hasn’t need much help in recent days, but Michael Cuddyer is making progress from his left knee injury, as the team announced this afternoon that he will begin a minor league rehab assignment Friday with High-A St. Lucie.
Cuddyer has been sidelined since July 21 due to a bone bruise behind his knee. He was originally hoping to return to the Mets on Saturday, but Adam Rubin of ESPN New York now hears that he’s unlikely to be activated until Monday’s game against the Rockies.
The Mets surrendered a first-round pick to sign Cuddyer to a two-year, $21 million contract over the winter, but he’s batting just .250/.303/.380 with eight home runs and 30 RBI over 82 games this season. There was much hemming and hawing prior to him finally being placed on the disabled list, but it was clear he wasn’t doing the team much good by staying on the active roster. Either Michael Conforto or Eric Campbell will be sent out when Cuddyer is deemed ready, though the 36-year-old will likely have to take on a part-time role after the recent addition of Yoenis Cespedes.
Rob Biertempfel of The Athletic reports that the Pirates have decided to convert outfielder JB Shuck into a two-way player. Recent comments relayed from the club’s director of player development, Larry Broadway, indicated that the outfielder would be coached in developing his pitching skills while working at Triple-A Indianapolis.
Per Broadway, the change would be enacted to help the veteran outfielder develop some much-needed versatility in the majors, where he’s only ever been limited to outfield and DH responsibilities. Well, except for the two games in which he pitched an inning of relief: once, against the Nationals in a blowout 11-4 loss in 2016, then in a similarly painful loss to the Diamondbacks this past April. During the latter outing, he finished the game with a 13-pitch ninth inning after allowing just one hit and one walk.
Add to that one minor-league outing in 2012, and the 31-year-old Shuck has pitched just three times over the course of his 12-season career in pro ball. While he has three years of experience on the mound from his college days, he’ll need quite a bit of preparation to handle the kind of workload expected from a two-way outfielder/reliever: 20+ innings pitched over a season and 20+ games played as a designated hitter or position player.
Still, his lack of experience doesn’t seem to faze Broadway, at least not this early in the process. There’s no word yet on how soon Shuck would be expected to debut his new skillset on a major-league level.