AP writer Howie Rumbergap — which is a FANTASTIC sportswriter name, by the way — talks to a number of former big baseball names who are now the marginal types in spring training camps across Florida and Arizona. The Mark Prior/Mike Hampton/Bartolo Colon/Eric Chavez types. After noting that, despite the fact that many of them had either quit or said they would quit before, they’re all still plugging away, Eric Chavez explains it:
“This is what I was born to do. I’m a baseball player. I’m not going to be able to do it a lot longer in life and I just want enjoy it and try to finish it out as best as I can.”
This puts a slightly different spin on the “he’s a ballplayer” stuff from the other day. One that suggests commitment, be it quixotic or otherwise.
These guys have way more of their identity tied up in what they do than the vast majority of us who sit in front of computers and crack wise all day. That’s both good and bad, of course, depending on how extreme the commitment and whether it’s a motivating force or one that skews perspective and leads one to make bad life choices.
But it’s one of the many things that draws me to baseball. These guys are just wired differently than you and I. And I find it fascinating.
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.