Jeremy Hellickson got the Opening Day start for the Phillies on Monday afternoon against the Reds. He accomplished an Opening Day feat that no Phillie had done since 1918, but he did it in the batter’s box, not on the mound: Hellickson hit an RBI triple in the top of the sixth inning off of Blake Wood. Hellickson became the first Phillies pitcher to triple on Opening Day since Erskine Mayer on April 16, 1918 in the Baker Bowl.
Hellickson, however, regrets hitting that triple because it literally took his breath away. Per Matt Breen of the Philadelphia Inquirer, Hellickson said, “I was catching my breath for about 30 minutes after I got back in there. Last time I’ll be doing that.”
Hellickson’s teammates told him to take some extra time to catch his breath in the dugout before going out to pitch the bottom half of the sixth. He gave up a leadoff double to Adam Duvall before manager Pete Mackanin relieved him with Joaquin Benoit. Mackanin said he had a quick hook with Hellickson as a combination of the triple, the right-hander’s pitch count, the stressful third and fourth innings, and heavy air from a storm that passed through.
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.