Rafael Furcal nearing rehab assignment for oblique injury

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Jonathan Broxton is slated to begin his rehab assignment tonight at Triple-A and Rafael Furcal may not be far behind, as Tony Jackson of ESPN Los Angeles reports that the injured shortstop could start a rehab stint of his own as soon as Monday.

Furcal has been out since June 4 with a strained left oblique muscle that was initially expected to sideline him for at least a month.

He was able to field ground balls, make throws, and even take batting practice from the right side of the plate yesterday, but Jackson notes that the big test will come when the switch-hitter tries some swings from the left side.

Dee Gordon has held his own in Furcal’s place, filling in as the shortstop and leadoff man, but his hitting .280 with little power or plate discipline presumably hasn’t impressed enough for the 23-year-old rookie to keep a starting job once Furcal returns.

Yankees GM Brian Cashman not considering demoting struggling Greg Bird

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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.

Chris Archer threw behind Jose Bautista

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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.