Carlos Ruiz close to returning from concussion

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Carlos Ruiz has been on the disabled list since suffering a concussion on June 26, but the Phillies catcher has been cleared to begin a minor-league rehab assignment.

CSNPhilly.com reports that Ruiz will be in the lineup Thursday night at Single-A Clearwater and barring a setback he could be ready to return from the DL at some point next week.

That wouldn’t leave enough time for Ruiz to show contending teams that he’s healthy enough to be a July 31 trade pickup, but in the first season of a three-year, $26 million contract he could be moved during the August waiver trading period and the Phillies might have to eat some salary to get a deal done anyway.

Before the concussion Ruiz was doing his usual thing at the plate, hitting .257 with two homers and nearly as many walks (31) as strikeouts (35) in 66 games for a strong .363 on-base percentage and .719 OPS. When healthy he remains one of the best catchers in baseball, but at age 35 and with his injury and contract the trade market could be limited.

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.