Jason Grey of ESPN.com was on hand for Brandon Webb’s extended spring training start yesterday and filed a report that suggests the former Cy Young winner is still nowhere near full strength more than two years after shoulder problems first surfaced.
Webb threw two scoreless innings against the Mariners’ extended spring squad, but Grey notes that his highest velocity on 12 fastballs thrown was 84 miles per hour. According to Grey (and the Rangers, who confirmed the radar readings) he threw one at 84, one at 82, and “the rest 78-81.”
Webb told Grey afterward that he thought the outing went “better than expected,” but throwing in the low-80s after numerous setbacks paints an awfully pessimistic picture for his chances of contributing positively to the Rangers this season. Even before the injury his velocity wasn’t overpowering, as he averaged 87-89 miles per hour, but it’s a long way from 78-81 to 88-90 and Webb seemingly isn’t making any progress.
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.