While the Rays were beating up on CC Sabathia last night, Alex Rodriguez was busy working his way back into shape against minor league competition.
A-Rod went 2-for-3 with a solo homer last night in his first minor league rehab game with High-A Tampa. Serving as the designated hitter, he slugged a solo homer in his first at-bat in the first inning, doubled in the third and struck out looking in his final at-bat in the fifth.
Rodriguez was homerless over his final 85 at-bats before hitting the disabled list, but told Chris Girandola of MLB.com that he is hopeful he will be able to hit the ball with more authority following knee surgery.
“I wasn’t driving the ball like I was used to, so for me, the home run meant a little more than just a home run because the last several weeks I was playing, I wasn’t able to drive the ball. My team expects me to hit the ball out of the park and hit with a lot more production and that’s what I expect out of myself, too. So hopefully I can come back and hit the ground running and help my team win the division.”
The plan is for Rodriguez to play again today and work out tomorrow before taking the day off Monday. He will then play with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Tuesday and Wednesday before rejoining the Yankees next Thursday night against the Twins.
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.