As costly as it was, Scott Rolen’s second error of the NLDS, which scored the go-ahead run as the Reds lost in 10 innings, isn’t reason alone to stick him on the bench against San Francisco’s Barry Zito in Wednesday’s Game 4 in Cincinnati. But it doesn’t need to be.
In Todd Frazier, the Reds have a third baseman who posted an OPS 200 points higher than Rolen did against lefties this season. Rolen came in at .234 with one homer in 77 at-bats against southpaws. Frazier hit .298 with six homers in 124 at-bats.
Meanwhile, Rolen’s poor September has carried over to the postseason, as he’s opened the series against San Francisco 2-for-11. Frazier struggled during the season’s final month, too, but he outhit Rolen over the rest of the year. As a third baseman, he’ll never be confused with prime Rolen. But then neither will the 37-year-old version of Rolen manning the hot corner right now.
The Reds don’t need to make a permanent Rolen-for-Frazier switch at third. It’s doubtful Dusty Baker would even entertain the thought. Still, plugging in Frazier against the lefty in the second of three possible games in three days makes plenty of sense. The Reds managed Rolen’s playing time carefully all year anyway, and the lineup could use Frazier’s extra pop.
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.