Link-O-Rama: Saito getting expensive for Red Sox

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* Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald reports that Takashi Saito’s next appearance out of the Red Sox’s bullpen will earn him a $500,000 bonus, and then after that he gets another $500,000 for every five outings. So far Saito’s incentive-laden contract has paid him $5 million for 48.2 innings of a 2.59 ERA and 46/21 K/BB ratio.
Boston holds a 2010 team option on Saito that is based on his final 2009 salary, which makes any bonus money he earns this month particularly important. Right now my guess is that the 40-year-old won’t be back with the Red Sox next season, but he’s certainly pitched well.
* Venezuela defeated the United States in the World Cup opener last night, as Marlins minor leaguer Nate Field served up a grand slam in the 11th inning. Team USA will now have to beat both Germany and China to advance to the second round.
* Boxing promoter Bob Arum and Yankees officials talked yesterday about possibly holding marquee fights at the new Yankee Stadium. Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com notes that Arum was the promoter behind the Muhammad Ali-Ken Norton fight at the old Yankee Stadium in 1976.
* Not only has reliever Craig Breslow posted a 3.00 ERA and 37/16 K/BB ratio in 45 innings for the A’s since the Twins misguidedly put him on waivers, he might be the smartest player in baseball.

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.