The Tigers have made second baseman Ian Kinsler their leadoff hitter, bumping center fielder Austin Jackson down to the fifth slot in the lineup, MLB.com’s Jason Beck writes in his latest column.
Since joining the Tigers in December 2009 in a three-way trade with the Diamondbacks and Yankees, Jackson has taken 2,554 of his 2,574 career plate appearances (99.2 percent) out of the leadoff spot in the lineup. Kinsler, too, has spent a majority of his time in the leadoff spot, taking 3,093 of his 4,791 career plate appearances (64.6 percent) there.
The lineup alteration does appear to have merit. Compared to Jackson, Kinsler has much better plate discipline, steals bases more often, and successfully steals bases at a higher rate than Jackson. Jackson strikes out a lot and hasn’t put his speed to much use lately — he stole only eight bases in 12 attempts in 2013 — so he is a better fit in the number five or six spot.
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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.
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.