Yesterday the Giants lost for the 21st time in 31 games, falling six games behind the Diamondbacks in the NL West, and today the front office had a mini-house cleaning by designating veterans Miguel Tejada and Aaron Rowand for assignment.
Tejada was signed to a one-year, $6 million contract to take over as the Giants’ starting shortstop despite all kinds of evidence that he couldn’t handle the position defensively at age 37.
He was quickly moved to third base and then the bench, hitting just .239 with four homers and a .596 OPS in 91 games. And the final straw may have been the former MVP’s public complaints about being asked to lay down a sacrifice bunt earlier this week.
Rowand still has another season remaining on a five-year, $60 million contract, so the Giants will be paying him $12 million in 2012 whether he’s still on the roster or not. Rowand got that deal following a career-year in 2007, but has hit just .253 with a .704 OPS in 509 games since then and had started just 16 games since the All-Star break. It’s possible the Giants will be able to find a taker for Rowand if they eat all of that salary.
That the moves come one day before rosters expand from 25 to 40 is awfully telling. Pat Burrell was called up from the minors to fill one of the roster spots along with Triple-A first baseman Brett Pill.
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.