The Detroit Tigers have signed first baseman James Loney to a minor league deal. He’ll report to extended spring training to get in shape.
Loney was in the Rangers camp this spring but played poorly and was cut. Last year he played for the Mets. Before that he spent a few years with the Rays. He has not posted an OPS+ of 100 or more — which is league average for all positions — since 2014. He has not had a good offensive season for a first baseman since at least 2013, and even then that’s debatable. He has defensive value, which has been what has kept him in the league despite his weak bat for a first baseman, but hasn’t had a positive WAR since that 2013 season.
Why are the Tigers signing him? Organizational depth is the likely answer. While Miguel Cabrera isn’t going anyplace, he has started the season slowly, he sustained an injury in the World Baseball Classic and, according to those who have watched him, isn’t using his legs as much in his swing in the first week of the season. Miggy has had leg issues in the past that have harmed his swing, so maybe the Tigers are a bit concerned?
Hard to say. But James Loney has a job once again.
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.