Injury updates: Votto, Howard, and Sizemore

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* After three weeks on the disabled list with what MLB.com calls “an undisclosed stress-related issue” Joey Votto is back with the Reds
and in the starting lineup for tonight’s game against the Blue Jays.
Votto was hitting .357/.464/.627 with eight homers, 10 doubles, and 23
walks in 151 plate appearances before landing on the shelf and the Reds
went 8-13 without him.

* According to the Philadelphia Daily News, Ryan Howard is expected to play tonight
after his MLB-best streak of 343 straight games was snapped Sunday
because of acute sinusitis. Howard was hospitalized over the weekend
with a 104-degree fever, but still managed to smack a three-run homer
off the bench Saturday.

* Grady Sizemore is back
after being on the DL since last month with left elbow inflammation,
but has said that season-ending surgery may still be needed if he
suffers another setback. Sizemore was hitting just .233/.309/.417 in 49
games before taking the time off and will be playing through pain, so
it’ll be interesting to see if he can get back on track while in the
lineup every day.

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.