Bill Baer

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Nationals demote Joe Ross to Triple-A

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The Nationals have demoted starter Joe Ross to Triple-A Syracuse, MASN’s Mark Zuckerman reports. A.J. Cole has been recalled to take the open roster spot, but will need to serve the final three days of a five-day suspension garnered at the end of last season when he threw at Pirates infielder Jung Ho Kang.

Ross, 23, struggled in three starts, surrendering 13 runs on 20 hits and four walks with 14 strikeouts in 15 2/3 innings. Zuckerman says that if Jacob Turner isn’t needed out of the bullpen between now and Saturday, Turner will start on the road on Saturday against the Phillies.

Manager Dusty Baker said that “Joe wasn’t Joe. That was it in a nutshell,” per Zuckerman. Baker stressed to Ross that the team will need him this season.

Victor Martinez bunted to beat the shift last night

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Tigers DH Victor Martinez isn’t exactly ripping the cover off the ball to start the year. He’s hitting .239/.297/.304 through his first 101 plate appearances. Sometimes, when one is in a slump, one must find creative ways to find success, and that’s exactly what Martinez did on Monday.

The Tigers led the Indians 5-1 when the bottom of the fifth inning began. Martinez led off against Indians starter Trevor Bauer, and the infield was shifted to the right side to defend Martinez’s tendency to pull. Bauer threw a first-pitch fastball which missed his spot by about a foot. Still, Martinez bunted the ball down the third base line, where there were no Indians defenders. The bunt single was one of three hits Martinez had on the evening and the Tigers went on to win 7-1.

Martinez discussed what was going through his mind as he prepared to lay down the bunt. Via Matthew B. Mowery of The Oakland Press:

A little scared. I really decided when (Indians pitcher Trevor) Bauer started his windup. I was like ‘Eh, I’m going for it.’ My heart was going ‘BOOM, BOOM, BOOM. I don’t know (why). I just decided. I saw Ramirez playing way over at shortstop, and I told myself, ‘If I put it there, I’ll be safe.’

Martinez added, “It was a lot of fun. Finally I get to put one down. First one of my career.”

Though a good counter to the infield shift, we aren’t seeing a commensurate increase in bunts along with the increase in infield shifting. Anthony Rizzo, Kyle Schwarber, and Carlos Santana have made headlines this season for bunting along with Martinez, but most of the time, hitters are still going up there taking full cuts.

Yankees place Greg Bird on the disabled list

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On Tuesday, the Yankees announced that first baseman Greg Bird has been placed on the 10-day disabled list with a bruised right ankle. Outfielder Rob Refsnyder was recalled from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Bird fouled a ball off of his ankle near the end of spring training, but he played through it and it may explain his lackluster performance. Bird is hitting .100/.250/.200 with one home run and three RBI in 72 plate appearances.

GM Brian Cashman was recently asked if Bird’s lack of production merited a demotion to the minors, but Cashman said, “It’s not even an option for me in my mind right now, at all.”

Chris Carter is in Tuesday’s starting lineup at first base, batting eighth. He figures to see most of the time at first base while Bird is absent.