Rangers catcher Yorvit Torrealba made headlines by yelling at Andruw Jones during Wednesday’s game for what he believed was stealing signs and relaying them to other Yankees hitters while at second base.
Mark Teixeira revealed that Torrealba also complained to him about the same thing during Tuesday’s game, Rangers manager Ron Washington told reporters that Alex Rodriguez is known for stealing signs, and Yankees manager Joe Girardi naturally didn’t like the entire line of questioning.
Meanwhile, there are two interesting issues at play here. One is that, even if the Yankees are stealing signs, so what? That goes on all the time with most and perhaps even all teams, and the general consensus seems to be that it’s the other team’s responsibility to keep their signs under wraps as long as the thieves aren’t being extraordinarily obvious about the whole thing. Torrealba even indicated that he thought it was a relatively minor offense and was simply trying to crack down on it.
Beyond that is the issue of whether or not the Yankees are significantly helping themselves by stealing signs and … well, the evidence seems to suggest no. Or as David Cameron of Fan Graphs put it via Twitter last night: “With a runner on second base the Yankees have a .683 OPS. If they’re stealing signs, they suck at it.”
Sure enough, New York has hit .208 with a .683 OPS when a runner is on second base, which is much worse than their hitting .260 with a .798 OPS overall and .258 with a .787 OPS with no runners on base. Not quite conclusively proof either way, since the sign-stealing surely doesn’t go on every time a runner reaches second base, but situations like the one that angered Torrealba haven’t exactly allowed Yankees hitters to dominate.
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.