Loving and hating Bryce Harper

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NBC’s Jelisa Castrodale considers the phenomenon that is Bryce Harper. And, after noting his … uniqueness …

He was the guy who smudged his eyeblack down onto his cheekbones, the guy who cost his team a National Junior College World Series after an ejection and suspension, the one who blew a kiss to an opposing Single-A pitcher as he jogged around the bases. And let’s face it, his name is Bryce. BRYCE. That could only be more irritating if his parents had gone with EdHardyNickelbackCrocs …

Notes that he also has the potential to be everything we want in a ballplayer:

I’ll take Harper’s in-your-face ambition and (sometimes cringeworthy) honesty over other young players who hide their fake humility behind equally forced smiles. Harper’s willingness to tell you exactly what he thinks — whether arguing a call inches from an umpire’s face or admitting he “likes showing up the older guys” — is why he was booed during his debut at Dodger Stadium and why Hamels parked a 93 mph fastball in his back.

Ironically, despite all of the criticism about his own behavior, Harper seems to bring out the worst in other people, whether it’s coming from Hamels’ left arm or out of the mouths of the scouts who evaluated him as a pre-draft prospect.

It’s a good nutshell of Harper. And posits, quite accurately, I think, that in a lot of ways, this young brash pain in the butt is far more “Old School” than those who claim he needs a baseball education in that regard.

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.