First-third awards – AL Rookie of the Year

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Toronto’s Scott Richmond was the AL’s top rookie during April, but he’s
since fallen behind four players, all of whom have a case for Rookie of
the Year honors to date:

Elvis Andrus (SS Rangers) – While Matt Wieters, Nolan Reimold, Aaron
Cunningham and others still have plenty of time to make up ground,
Andrus is the only AL rookie position player to already have two solid
months under his belt. The 20-year-old is batting .285/.333/.424 with
nine steals in 10 tries. It’s hardly a spectacular line, especially
considering that it’s being inflated by playing in Arlington. However,
it’s the smaller part of what he’s doing. His glovework at short has
been a difference maker for a team that’s going from a 5.37 ERA in 2008
to a 4.56 mark so fat this year.

Andrew Bailey (RHP Athletics) – With a 2.12 ERA in 34 innings,
Bailey has been one of the AL’s top relievers, and the peripherals back
up the numbers, as he’s struck out 40 and allowed just 20 hits on the
season. Of course, he’ll need to seize the closer’s role on a full-time
basis in order to stay in the Rookie of the Year race. Holds won’t get
it done.

Josh Outman (LHP Athletics) – An uptick in velocity has made Outman
one of the game’s hardest-throwing left-handed starters, and it’s
translated into plenty of success over the last five weeks. He’s 3-0
with a 2.49 ERA in his last seven starts. Command is an issue, so he’s
no lock to stay in the hunt. However, there’s been nothing fluky about
his success so far.

Rick Porcello (RHP Tigers) – Even though he hasn’t been allowed to
throw more than 95 pitches in an outing this season, Porcello has
managed to work deep enough into games to win six times in 12 starts.
He has a 3.70 ERA thanks to his power sinker, and if the Tigers decide
to be a little less restrictive with his pitch count later this season,
he could go after more strikeouts with his curve. The Tigers, though,
will likely be very careful with him all year long, and they’ll likely
shut him down in early or mid-September if they fall out of contention.

First-third AL ROY

1. Porcello
2. Andrus
3. Bailey

Yankees GM Brian Cashman not considering demoting struggling Greg Bird

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Yankees first baseman Greg Bird gave his team tons of confidence to hand him the everyday job at first base to start the 2017 regular season, batting .451/.556/1.098 with eight home runs in 51 spring at-bats. But he’s followed that up by hitting .107/.254/.214 through the first month of the regular season.

GM Brian Cashman doesn’t have any intent to demote Bird back to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch reports. Cashman said, “It’s not even an option for me in my mind right now, at all.”

Bird didn’t start Sunday’s game against the Orioles, a 7-4 loss in 11 innings. Lefty Wade Miley started for the Orioles, prompting manager Joe Girardi to put Chris Carter into the lineup at first base. If Bird isn’t able to figure things out, Carter might have an increased role on the team.

Chris Archer threw behind Jose Bautista

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Rays starter Chris Archer threw his first pitch to Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista behind the slugger’s back with one out in the first inning of Sunday afternoon’s game in Toronto. Bautista and Archer then had a staredown. Home plate umpire Jim Wolf issued warnings to both teams. Bautista ultimately flied out to right field and he appeared to have a quick word with Archer on his way back to the dugout.

Archer could have been exacting revenge — euphemistically known as “protecting his teammate” — because Jays reliever Joe Biagini hit Rays outfielder Steven Souza in the seventh inning of Saturday’s game. Souza was forced to leave the game and underwent an X-ray, which came back negative. He was held out of Sunday’s lineup. Biagini’s pitch did not appear to be intentional.

The Jays won Sunday’s contest 3-1 with no further incident. The two clubs meet again in Tampa for a three-game series starting on May 5, so we’ll see if Sunday was the last of the bad blood between them.