Out of options McGowan 'remains a big unknown'

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Dustin McGowan missed all of 2009 following shoulder surgery and general manager J.P. Ricciardi went so far as to suggest that his career was in jeopardy, but now he’s former general manager J.P. Ricciardi and MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports “the hope is that McGowan will be ready to join the rotation competition” in spring training.
However, Bastian adds that McGowan “remains a big unknown” given that he hasn’t pitched since July of 2008 and had his recovery from surgery sidetracked by a knee injury. Bastian also notes that McGowan is out of minor-league options, which means he can’t be sent to Triple-A without first passing through waivers.
Normally that would be an issue, because several teams would no doubt take a flier on McGowan if available for nothing, but the Blue Jays can always get him to the minors while avoiding the waiver wire by making it a rehab assignment rather than a straightforward demotion.
In other words, if McGowan shows up at spring training looking like his old, pre-surgery self he’ll grab an Opening Day rotation spot. If instead he struggles in his return to the mound he’ll be placed on the disabled list to begin the season and then make his way back to the majors with a stay at extended spring training followed by a rehab stint. There’s no need to risk losing McGowan, at least until the Blue Jays find out whether there’s much left to lose following surgery.

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.