UPDATE: Dan Hayes of the North County Times was told by a Padres official that the talks are serious, but that “nothing is going to happen either way for a few days.”
8:03 PM: Aaron wrote earlier that the Padres were “interested” in signing free agent Brad Hawpe to play first base.
Now Buster Olney of ESPN.com is reporting that the two sides are “on the verge” of an agreement.
The Friars chased free agent first basemen Derrek Lee and Adam LaRoche earlier this winter, but Hawpe will come far cheaper and could be just as productive if things go right in 2011.
He batted just .245 with a .338 on-base percentage and .419 slugging percentage in 2010 for the Rockies and Rays, but Hawpe still boasts a stellar 862 career OPS and he doesn’t turn 32 years old until June 22 of next year.
PETCO Park is one of the least power-friendly ballparks in all of baseball and doesn’t lend itself to many offensive turnarounds. Hawpe, though, hit well there during his five-plus seasons in the National League West and may be able to right the ship.
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.