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Olney: Teams could utilize a four-man outfield soon

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On the heels of the stats revolution that popularized the use of the infield shift, ESPN’s Buster Olney thinks teams could soon utilize a four-man outfield in certain situations. According to Olney, some evaluators have considered the possibility as a means to curtail big innings in high-leverage situations.

Olney goes through several scenarios, suggesting that it would take a confluence of factors to make a team resort to a four-man outfield: the pitcher would need to be prone to giving up fly balls, the batter would need to be prone to hitting fly balls to his pull side, and it would likely have to be in a two-out situation.

Many scoffed when teams began implementing shifts on a regular basis, suggesting that teams were overthinking. I’d imagine many of the same people will scoff at the idea of a four-man outfield. I’m with Olney, though, in thinking that it very well could become a part of teams’ defensive arsenals.

That being said, the idea of a four-man outfield isn’t new. As Olney notes, then-Rays manager Joe Maddon utilized a four-man outfield against noted sluggers David Ortiz and Jim Thome. It hasn’t been used much since then, however.

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.