Jason Heyward is in the midst of his first extended slump, going 1-for-20 in his last seven games, and Braves manager Bobby Cox thinks he’s being too patient at the plate:
We’re going to talk to him. He’s taking way too many pitches for strikes. [As a result] he’s getting one pitch to swing at right now.
Not many 20-year-old rookies are accused of being too patient during their first month in the big leagues, but Heyward is so good that even his problems are positive ones.
As for whether there’s truth to what Cox is saying, thanks to Fan Graphs we can see that the numbers seemingly agree. Heyward has 13 walks and 25 strikeouts in 81 plate appearances, which certainly shows that he’s taking tons of pitches and working deep counts often. In fact, he ranks third in the league with an average of 4.47 pitches per plate appearance.
He’s also swung at the fourth-lowest percentage of pitches inside the strike zone, which certainly matches Cox’s assessment that Heyward is letting many hittable pitches go by. Also worth noting is that when Heyward does swing he has the 10th-worst contact rate in the league.
Ultimately this is all picking nits, because he’s a 20-year-old rookie with an .806 OPS, but it’ll be interesting to see what type of adjustments Heyward makes now that he’s experienced some adversity.
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.
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.