Russell Martin ahead of schedule, set for opener

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Russell Martin was initially expected to miss 4-6 weeks with a groin injury suffered early in spring training, but he’s far enough ahead of schedule that manager Joe Torre now expects the 27-year-old to be ready for Opening Day:

That’s what we’re expecting right now. Once we made the commitment to play him in the regular spring-training games, we pretty much made that choice, as opposed to starting him on the DL. I’m very comfortable. I think the only thing he’ll be a little behind on is getting his rhythm and timing. But hopefully he’ll get that done shortly.

Over the past three seasons Martin logged more innings behind the plate than any other catcher, leading baseball in innings caught in both 2007 and 2009 while ranking second to Jason Kendall in 2008.
In other words, his not rushing back from what was at first deemed a fairly significant injury could have turned into a positive thing in terms of keeping him healthy and fresh all season. For his career Martin has hit .287 with an .800 OPS in the first half compared to .263 with a .744 OPS in the second half, and August and September have been his two worst months.

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.