Red Sox, Reds, Rangers, Cardinals all downplaying interest in Roy Oswalt

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Roy Oswalt remains linked to a handful of teams, but seemingly no one wants to admit that they’re actually close to signing him.

Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said yesterday that he hadn’t talked to Oswalt’s agent in a week, only to have Jon Morosi of FOXSports.com report that they were indeed “still in talks.”

Rob Bradford of WEEI.com reports that the Red Sox have “no traction” in negotiations with Oswalt and Boston signing him “doesn’t seem likely at this point.”

Similarly, according to Cardinals general manager John Mozeliak the veteran right-hander ending up in St. Louis is unlikely in no small part because they’d have to shed significant payroll to add him and already have a full rotation.

Other potential suitors include the Rangers and Phillies, but Texas has downplayed its interest in Oswalt and Philadelphia would seemingly have to find a taker for Joe Blanton and his $8.5 million salary before possibly re-signing Oswalt.

He’s going to end up with a contender, mostly likely on a sizable one-year deal, but in the meantime there’s a pretty interesting little game of public statement chicken going on.

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.