A helmet, and a helping hand for Victorino

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victorino_090903.jpgWhile David “Lord Helmet” Wright has suddenly become ashamed of his massive brain protector, Shane Victorino is going in the opposite direction.

The Phillies center fielder is giving the fancy new Rawlings helmet a try. Victorino has always kind of looked like a little leaguer anyway in that double-flapped model, so he doesn’t have much to lose.

Then again, the Flyin’ Hawaiian seems to like to do things his own way. And that’s often a good thing. Victorino, for instance, is doing his part to try to help out high school sports in his home state of Hawaii.

According to the New York Times (with thanks to the Sporting News), Victorino has cut a check for $10,000 to help out the Hawaii High School Athletic Association, which faces some tough budget cuts.

The fact that Hawaii is facing problems is not unique to the rest of the country during these times, but Hawaii certainly faces a unique set of circumstances. There are 95 high schools spread across the set of islands, and travel can be difficult and expensive, requiring ferry rides or — if lucky — plane flights.

And with no pro teams and limited college sports options, high school sports play a greater role in the lives of many residents.

Victorino said he felt a need to step up and help. From The Times:

At last count, officials had collected more than $700,000 of their $1.2 million goal, helping the association keep sports seasons going and avoid the prospect of forcing students to pay to play.

“It was almost like an obligation to do that,” Victorino said before a recent Phillies game at Citizens Bank Park. “It tells me something. In Hawaiian culture, everybody’s got each other’s back. I’m not saying that doesn’t happen anywhere else, but it is true in Hawaii. Family is No. 1.”

If enough money is not raised, athletes may be asked to pay their way to competitions, something Victorino said was unimaginable.

“You shouldn’t have to pay to play as a kid,” he said.

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.