Jimmy Rollins goes to Uganda; finds a knuckleballer

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Great story at ESPN.com about Jimmy Rollins’ recent trip to Uganda, where he met and worked with young baseball players who were supposed to play in last years’ Little League World Series but were unable to come up with the funds to travel here. With Rollins’ help they will now get to play a series against the Canadian team they were supposed to meet in Williamsport.

Lots of great stuff in the story, but I like this thing about a shortstop/pitcher named Babu who is easily my favorite Ugandan baseball player now:

[Rollins] and Babu Alex, a talented shortstop and pitcher, have become fast friends. “As a shortstop, I want to be Jimmy Rollins,” said Babu, who has two younger brothers who are also shortstops. “As a pitcher, I admire Cole Hamels. I have four pitches, including a knuckleball.”

If they’re turning out knuckleballers in Uganda, I put my full support behind the establishment of major league training academies all over that country.

(thanks to bigxrob for the heads up)

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

Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images
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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.