Third baseman Evan Longoria and outfielder B.J. Upton had to be separated in the Rays’ dugout Sunday after Longoria got in Upton’s face for failing to hustle after a ball that was hit to the Tropicana Field wall in the fifth inning.
The would-be double turned into a triple for D’Backs first baseman Rusty Ryal and was followed by a Gerrardo Parra two-run homer.
Upton was clearly at fault, but presumably had a problem with Longoria calling him out in front of the rest of the team, including manager Joe Maddon.
The Rays have been in a bit of a funk lately and have dropped five of their last seven games to National League clubs. Sunday’s incident in the dugout looked ugly, but can probably be chalked up as a heat-of-the-battle type moment, borne out of the frustration of losing to perfectly beatable teams.
In fact, Upton told Marc Topkin of the St. Petersburg Times on Sunday evening that the issue is “buried.”
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.