Aroldis Chapman went to the Arizona Fall League in order to build up some arm strength in preparation for pitching as a starter in the Puerto Rican winter league, but the Reds have canceled those plans.
Chapman is healthy after briefly being sidelined by shoulder soreness in Arizona, but general manager Walt Jocketty told John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer that they’ve decided to have the 23-year-old left-hander stay in the team-controlled environments in Arizona and Florida:
We’ve decided against sending him to Puerto Rico. He’s on a strength-and-conditioning program in Arizona. He’ll go to Florida after that and continue to work out. There’s no injury. We just want to make sure he’s 100 percent. He had the shoulder issue during the season.
Despite the change of plans the Reds are still hoping that Chapman can make the transition from reliever to starter for 2012, which means he might spend spring training building arm strength instead of showing up to camp ready to work as a starter.
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.