In the pantheon of Cleveland baseball legends, don’t forget Jason Kipnis.
The long-time second baseman announced his retirement on Twitter yesterday, thanking everyone that helped him along the way and making a bunch of grown adults cry with a video montage.
There are some baseball stars that feel just like that — baseball’s stars. But Jason Kipnis always felt uniquely Cleveland’s. Whether he was doing his annual shoe toss after the season, or flashing a smile after making a diving play at second base, it was clear he loved playing in Cleveland and fans loved him back for it. For someone who constantly played with a chip on his shoulder and wasn’t afraid to tell off reporters who doubted him, there was always a selfless humility to him, and it was easy to see how much he cared about winning in Cleveland.
He may not be the runaway franchise leader in any one statistic, and aside from one month in 2015 he was never baseball’s best player, but Kipnis both helped carry the club through one of the dullest times of this century and propel it to its brightest.
Kipnis, who constantly battled through being told he was too short and wouldn’t make it as a major leaguer, parlayed the grit and tenacity that earned him the “Dirtbag” nickname into a 10-year MLB career. He finished that career, which includes 44 games with the Cubs in 2020, with 126 home runs, 136 stolen bases, and a .260/.333/.416 slash. He hit his fair share of foul balls, of course, and if only one of them, in particular, had stayed fair he might have had a statue outside of Progressive Field someday.
Yesterday’s announcement closes the book on a chapter of Cleveland history that we should all look back fondly on. I can say without a hint of doubt that Kipnis will be one of those players that I tell my grandkids about some day.
Cleveland Guardians news
Guardians’ No. 1, No. 7 prospects sidelined by injury | MLB
In case you missed it yesterday, Daniel Espino and Chase DeLauter are being shut down due to injuries.
Guardians top pitching prospect Daniel Espino suffers another shoulder injury | The Athletic ($$$)
More details from Zack Meisel if you have a subscription to The Athletic.
Espino reported shoulder soreness and swelling after a throwing session in January. An MRI revealed a strain of his subscapularis and a tear of the anterior capsule in his right shoulder.
Chris Antonetti on expectations for 2023: Guardians spring training rundown | Cleveland
Mostly just Chris Antonetti’s patented “saying a bunch of things without really hinting at anything,” he’s so good at, but one interesting tidbit here — Tyler Freeman will also be joining Gabriel Arias in taking outfield reps throughout spring training.