Tim Brown of Yahoo! Sports reports that Derrek Lee underwent surgery Friday to repair a torn thumb ligament that limited him for the entire season.
Lee initially suffered the injury on Opening Day, yet played 148 games and was at his best following a mid-August trade to the Braves, hitting .287 with a .384 on-base percentage and .465 slugging percentage in 39 games down the stretch as Atlanta reached the playoffs for the first time since 2005.
Prior to the trade Lee hit just .251/.336/.416 for the Cubs and even with the strong stretch for the Braves he finished with an OPS below .800 for the first time since 1999. He’s expected to be fully recovered from the surgery by spring training, but as a 35-year-old coming off a career-worst season Lee may have to settle for a one-year contract as a free agent.
He’s hitting the open market after playing out a five-year, $65 million deal signed in April of 2006.
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.