Evan Gattis cleared to begin rehab assignment

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Braves catcher Evan Gattis, who almost surely would have made the All-Star team if not for being on the disabled list with a bulging disk in his back, has been cleared to begin a minor-league rehab assignment Thursday at Triple-A.

Braves manager Fredi Gonzalez told Carroll Rogers of the Atlanta Journal Constitution that the plan is for Gattis to play designated hitter Thursday and spend at least 3-4 games at Triple-A overall before potentially coming off the disabled list next week.

Gattis has been out since June 27. He was having a huge year before the injury, hitting .290 with 16 homers and a .900 OPS in 63 games. Among all players with at least 50 games at catcher this season only Devin Mesoraco of the Reds has a higher slugging percentage or OPS than Gattis, who’s homered 37 times through his first 168 career games after debuting as a 26-year-old last season.

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.