Brad Lidge returning tomorrow, but will he close?

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After back-to-back scoreless outings on his minor-league rehab assignment, Brad Lidge is scheduled to return from the disabled list tomorrow. Two weeks ago Charlie Manuel said Lidge may not immediately reclaim ninth-inning duties, but fill-in closer Ryan Madson blowing two of his last three save opportunities may have changed the manager’s mind.
Even setting aside the offseason knee and elbow surgeries that Lidge is coming back from now, he put together one of the worst closer seasons in baseball history last year by going 0-8 with 11 blown saves and a 7.21 ERA. In other words, three-week stint on the disabled list or not handing closer duties back to Lidge comes with plenty of question marks.
Lidge’s rehab assignment got off to a poor start, but he threw seven scoreless innings over his final six appearances and pronounced himself “ready to go” after totaling four strikeouts in two perfect innings Tuesday at Double-A.

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.