You have to figure Scott Eden of ESPN was a bit cheesed off that L.A. Magazine beat him to the punch on a competing in-depth article about Yasiel Puig’s journey to the United States. But even if he wasn’t first, Eden’s is still excellently-reported and well-researched.
Many of the same beats: getting out of Cuba is really hard, and it creates some perverse incentives and awful choices for people. Puig almost certainly ratted out other would-be defectors, either because he felt he had to or felt it would draw attention away from himself. There are lawsuits about that now, though it’s an open question whether U.S. courts are the best place for such things.
More broadly, the entire process inevitably causes someone in Puig’s shoes to be wary of anyone he doesn’t know, even to this day. And no matter what led up to his defection, his flight itself was harrowing and its repercussions continue to this day. He was shaken down by people who did not have his best interests in mind before, during and after he defected, and even if he’s far better off now for having endured it all, it’s no less troubling what he had to go through.
I still have the same takeaways I had after the L.A. Mag piece earlier this week. I’ve said most of them enough already so I won’t annoy you with them once again. But Ben Badler of Baseball America — retweeting something he first said last summer — still makes a fantastic point:
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.