UPDATE: If you were frustrated about Neftali Feliz staying in the bullpen, this probably won’t make you feel any better. According to T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com, club officials have confirmed that Alexi Ogando is now a possibility for the starting rotation. Like Feliz, Ogando was stretched out for the starting rotation this spring.
9:31 PM: We have a timetable for Tommy Hunter’s return from a groin injury. And it’s not good.
Rangers assistant general manager Thad Levine told T.R. Sullivan of MLB.com earlier today that Hunter will be sidelined for at least six weeks after an MRI confirmed a Grade 2 (or moderate) strain of his right groin.
The Rangers hope that a blood-platelet injection scheduled for Monday will help advance his recovery.
“That’s a fair range,” assistant general manager Thad Levine said. “We’ll have to update that as he responds to treatment and the injection. But that’s kind of a ballpark figure.”
Hunter suffered the injury just hours after the team announced that Neftali Feliz would remain the closer for this season. Despite the injury, the Rangers remain committed to keeping the 22-year-old right-hander in the bullpen.
According to Sullivan, Michael Kirkman and non-roster invitee Dave Bush are in the mix to replace Hunter in the starting rotation. The Rangers would probably love to keep Bush around for depth purposes, but he has the option to declare himself a free agent on Sunday.
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.