Jesus Flores begins long road back from shoulder surgery

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After missing nearly all of the past two seasons with shoulder injuries one-time Nationals “catcher of the future” Jesus Flores began his long road back to the majors by playing six innings in an instructional league game yesterday.
Flores reported no problems hitting or throwing with his surgically repaired shoulder, but has a grand total of just three at-bats since originally suffering the injury in May of 2009 and has been surpassed by Wilson Ramos as the Nationals’ long-term answer behind the plate.
Washington also has Ivan Rodriguez signed for $3 million next season, presumably setting up a job-sharing arrangement between the future Hall of Famer and the 22-year-old Ramos that leaves Flores on the outside looking in even if he’s fully healthy. Catching depth is always a nice thing to have, but in the big picture the 25-year-old Flores may be better off trying to make his comeback elsewhere.

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.