Toronto Tidbits: The Doctor is in and Hill's homers

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Roy Halladay is back from the disabled list
and set to start tonight against the Rays. Prior to being forced from
his June 12 start after three innings because of a groin injury
Halladay had completed at least seven innings in each of his first 13
outings this season and even after missing nearly three weeks he still
leads the league in wins while ranking among the top 10 in innings.

Meanwhile in Toronto, not only did Aaron Hill’s pair of homers last night
establish a new career-high, he broke the Blue Jays’ single-season
record for homers by a second baseman that was previously held by
Roberto Alomar. Oh, and there are still 85 games remaining on the
schedule.

Hill has already gone deep 19 times in 358 plate appearances after
coming into the season with 28 long balls in 1,900 career trips to the
plate, although perhaps the more amazing thing is that through 32 years
as a franchise no Toronto second baseman had ever hit more than 17
homers.

Toronto’s primary second basemen over the years: Alomar, Damaso
Garcia, Manuel Lee, Homer Bush, Orlando Hudson, and now Hill. Danny
Ainge even started 86 games at second base back in 1979, batting .237
with two homers. Most people would probably guess that Alomar is the
team’s all-time leader in games at second base, but it’s actually
Garcia and he hit just 32 homers in 3,756 plate appearances with the
Blue Jays.

Pirates looking for outside outfield help

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Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that Pirates GM Neal Huntington is looking for outside outfield help in the wake of Starling Marte‘s 80-game suspension for using performance-enhancing drugs. With Marte out of the picture, the club moved Andrew McCutchen back to center field and have played Adam Frazier, John Jaso, and Jose Osuna in right field. But, as Brink points out, Osuna and Jaso — neither an outfielder by trade — misplayed balls over the weekend against the Yankees.

Among available free agents, the pickings are slim. There’s Coco Crisp, Jeff Francoeur, Cole Gillespie, Kelly Johnson, and Nolan Reimold (who is currently in independent baseball). The Pirates may have to find themselves a trade partner. They could also try to talk Angel Pagan back into action, as the veteran outfielder recently said he’s taking the year off. The Pirates could also look at Leonys Martin, who was recently designated for assignment by the Mariners.

Matt Barnes ejected after throwing at Manny Machado’s head

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On Friday, tension between the Orioles and Red Sox rose when Manny Machado spiked Dustin Pedroia sliding into second base. Although the umpires found no fault with Machado’s slide, third base coach Brian Butterfield was later ejected, still feeling like Machado wronged the Red Sox. Pedroia exited the game and was not in the lineup on Saturday or Sunday. He’ll undergo an MRI for his left knee and ankle in Boston on Monday.

For what it’s worth, Pedroia didn’t seem to feel any bitterness towards Machado for his slide. As MLB.com’s Jeff Seidel reported, Pedroia said, “I don’t even know what the rule is. I’ve turned the best double play in the Major Leagues for 11 years. I don’t need a … rule. The rule’s irrelevant. The rule’s for people with bad footwork.”

Tempers flared between the Red Sox and Orioles again on Sunday. In the bottom of the eighth inning with a runner on first base and one out with the Red Sox leading 6-0, reliever Matt Barnes threw a first-pitch fastball up-and-in to Machado. The ball actually hit Machado’s bat, so it counted as a foul ball. Home plate umpire Andy Fletcher ejected Barnes and the Red Sox brought in Joe Kelly. Machado doubled on the first pitch Kelly threw to put the Orioles on the board, but the Orioles ultimately lost 6-2.

MASN’s broadcast later showed Pedroia talking to Machado, seemingly clarifying that Barnes acted of his own volition without encouragement from Pedroia. “You know that,” Pedroia appeared to say. “It wasn’t me. It’s them.”

Update: Pedroia even apologized to Machado and the Orioles, per Brian MacPherson of the Providence Journal.

Commissioner Rob Manfred will likely look into Sunday’s incident. He could fine and/or suspend Barnes.

The Orioles and Red Sox meet again in Boston for a four-game series May 1-4. It will be interesting to see if the tension still remains then.