The Padres hoped that Gregg Zaun would feel well enough after shoulder surgery to back up primary catcher Nick Hundley this season, but they are back to the drawing board now that the 39-year-old backstop has announced his retirement.
However, they can probably cross one option off their list.
Dan Hayes of the North County Times hears that the Padres did indeed reach out to Bengie Molina — confirming a report by Marty Caswell of XX1090 Sports Radio in San Diego — but were told that “he is retired.”
UPDATE: This could be some haggling on the part of Molina, as Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News spoke with the veteran catcher today, who said he’s “definitely not retired.”
There were some rumors earlier this winter that Molina was considering backing up his younger brother Yadier in St. Louis, but it looks like he’ll be comfortable calling it a career unless he can get a guaranteed deal for a fair salary.
Molina, 36, batted .249/.297/.326 with five homers and 36 RBI over 416 plate appearances between the Giants and Rangers last season, so it’s easy to see why he didn’t receive much interest this winter. If he’s truly done, he’ll hang ’em with two Gold Glove awards, a .275 career batting average, 1,317 hits and 144 home runs over 13 major league seasons. Oh, and he hit for the cycle last July.
As for the Padres, Rob Johnson, who was acquired from the Mariners in December, appears to be the in-house favorite for the backup job right now, though non-roster invitees Kyle Philips and Guillermo Quiroz could also be in the mix.
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.