Alex Rodriguez is making “fantastic” progress in his rehab from hip surgery

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The last we heard on Alex Rodriguez, he was set to face live pitching for the first time since his January hip surgery. As he continues to ramp up baseball activities, his rehab is apparently going off without a hitch. In fact, he’s receiving rave reviews for his progress.

Here’s the skinny from CBS Sports’ Jon Heyman:

Alex Rodriguez’s recent progress is said by people around the Yankees to have been dramatic, with one person calling it “fantastic” and another even speculating A-Rod could possibly begin to play rehab games just after the All-Star break.

There have been dire predictions about A-Rod’s future based on the circumstances of a player in his late 30s undergoing two major hip surgeries and all the rest of his history. But one Yankees person, hearing of his recent progress, marveled Wednesday about Rodriguez.

“He may beat everyone back,” the Yankees person said, meaning all the many other injured Yankees.

Of course, that’s assuming Rodriguez doesn’t receive a suspension for his alleged connection to Biogenesis first.

While many Yankees fans would like to see Rodriguez gone, he suddenly looks like a potential upgrade now that Kevin Youkilis is at risk of missing the rest of the season following back surgery. Entering play tonight, New York’s third baseman were tied for last in the AL in home runs and ranked 23rd in the majors in slugging percentage and 22nd in OPS.

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.