Ken Rosenthal of FOXSports.com has a worrisome report about Michael Pineda’s velocity early in Yankees camp, writing that “scouts yesterday had Pineda at 88-91[miles per hour]” after he averaged 94.7 mph with his fastball last season.
He also quotes a scout as saying “and there was some effort to get to 91.” And then while noting it’s very early in spring training, Rosenthal adds that “scouts were taken aback, asking each other if readings were accurate.”
Now, in fairness to Pineda his diminished velocity in some early spring training action would probably have barely been noticed had he still be with the Mariners. On the other hand, Keith Law of ESPN.com says he scouted Pineda on March 7 of last season and clocked him at 93-96 mph, so it’s not just an “it’s early” thing.
On a related note, the Yankees have apparently been stressing to Pineda that he needs to work on improving his changeup and commit to throwing it more often, as they believe he needs a consistent third pitch to go with his mid-90s fastball and hard slider. Of course, if his velocity stays in the low-90s perfecting a third pitch will be the least of the Yankees’ concerns.
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.