Rangers play-by-play announcer Dave Barnett, who hasn’t been back in the booth since the incident two weeks ago in which he started spouting nonsense on the air, said Monday that he is taking an indefinite leave of absence.
As you may remember, Barnett pretty much lost it for a few seconds in a game on June 18, reporting that “the go-ahead run is at fifth on what [Mike] Adams is insisting on calling it a botched robbery. What actually happened was his henchman took piece literally out of,” before his mic was cut off. He was put back on the air 20 seconds later and everything seemed normal enough afterwards, but it was announced the next day that he was being sent for an evaluation.
“I want to thank everyone for your kind sentiments and words of encouragement over the last couple of weeks. It has meant a lot to me during what has been a very difficult time,” Barnett said in today’s statement. “Effective immediately, for health reasons I will be taking an indefinite leave of absence from my broadcasting duties that I expect to last for the remainder of the season. I would ask that you please respect the privacy of me and my family during this time.”
Steve Busby, who was doing radio play-by-play, will continue to fill in for Barnett on the TV side.
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.