Donovan Tate, the third overall pick in the 2009 MLB Amateur Draft, was a no-show this spring at Padres camp due to what was described by club officials as a personal matter. Now more than four months later, that personal matter has apparently been resolved.
Corey Brock of MLB.com reports that Tate finally arrived at the Padres’ spring training complex in Peoria, Arizona on Monday to begin working his way back into baseball shape. He spoke with reporters Tuesday: “I left baseball in order to gain a grasp on some personal issues in my life,” said Tate. “It’s been the same kind of things that I’ve been dealing with in my life for a long time. I’ve been very blessed to be part of the Padres. They’ve been very supportive of everything I’ve gone through and haven’t given up on me.”
Tate, who received a $6.25 million signing bonus soon after being drafted, was suspended 50 games in June 2011 following a second positive test for a drug of abuse (not a performance-enhancer). The athletic outfielder is a .241/.358/.320 career hitter in the minor leagues and will turn 23 years old in September.
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.