Right-hander James McDonald had a great case for being an All-Star in the summer of 2012. Not a whole lot has gone right since, though, and the Pirates designated him for assignment Saturday, according to the Tribune-Review’s Rob Biertempfel, removing him from the 40-man roster.
McDonald had been on the shelf since early May due to shoulder soreness, though he’s recently progressed to the point at which he can pitch in games. He’s making $3.025 million this season, so it’d cost another team about $500,000 to take a flier on him for the rest of the year. Since he’s not eligible for free agency until after the 2015 season, there’s enough upside to justify the risk. If he shows something this month, a team could keep him in arbitration for about that same $3 million salary next year. If he doesn’t, then he gets non-tendered and probably signs for $1 million-$2 million at the most this winter.
The 28-year-old McDonald is 32-30 with a 4.20 ERA lifetime in 82 starts and 49 relief appearances. He was 2-2 with a 5.76 ERA before going down this season.
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.