Entering Friday’s action, Brian Roberts has started all 23 games for the Orioles this season, yet he only has two stolen bases. Some have speculated that his balky back could be a factor for his inactivity on the basepaths, but Roberts told Brittany Ghiroli of MLB.com earlier today that he has been slowed early in the season due to a hamstring injury.
“I actually had a hamstring [injury] for about three weeks and nobody knew about it,” said Roberts, who said he started feeling discomfort in his right hamstring at the end of spring training. “I wanted to be on the field and I knew if I was trying to run recklessly, I probably wouldn’t have been able to stay in the lineup. But it’s gotten a lot better,” said Roberts, who stole his second base of the season, and first since April 6, on Thursday.
Roberts stole 12 bases in an injury-shortened 2010 season, but swiped at least 23 bases in the previous seven seasons. Though he’s now 33 years old and increasingly injury-prone, he tells Ghiroli that he’s confident he can get back to being the same player.
“I want to run and I think I still can run. I think I can still steal 30 bases and that’s what I’m hoping to do.”
Roberts is batting .253/.287/.411 with three homers and 16 RBI over his first 101 plate appearances this season.
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.