Colby Rasmus benched by Blue Jays: “I’m just sitting around watching these rookies play”

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Blue Jays center fielder Colby Rasmus hasn’t been playing as much lately and Tuesday manager John Gibbons made it official, telling the 28-year-old he’s been benched.

Or as Rasmus said to John Lott of the National Post:

I’ll be playing whenever they think I should play and I’m just going to be sitting around watching these rookies play. … I’m not down about it. No hard feelings. I’m just going to come in and pull for these boys and hope they do good.

Rasmus has been the Blue Jays’ starting center fielder since they acquired him from the Cardinals in mid-2011, but he’s failed to live up to the promise he showed in St. Louis. Combined in three-plus seasons in Toronto he’s hit .234 with a .725 OPS, including .225 with 16 homers and a .726 OPS in 95 games this season.

The homers are nice and overall Rasmus’ production has been decent for a center fielder offensively, but he’s an impending free agent and the Blue Jays have no intention of re-signing him. Expect to see a lot of 25-year-old rookie Kevin Pillar and 23-year-old rookie Anthony Gose in his place down the stretch.

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.

Bryce Harper sets April record for runs scored

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With four runs scored during Sunday’s 23-5 drubbing of the Mets, Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper set a new April record for runs scored at 32, MLB.com’s Oliver Macklin reports. The record was previously held by Larry Walker, who scored 29 runs for the Rockies in April 1997.

Harper finished 2-for-4 with a pair of walks and a solo home run (off of Mets catcher Kevin Plawecki) on the afternoon. He’s now hitting .391/.509/.772 with nine home runs and 26 RBI on the year.