Blue Jays moving Jose Bautista back to third base

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Jose Bautista has played exclusively right field this season and robbed Jordan Schafer of a home run out there earlier this week, but yesterday the Blue Jays announced that they’re moving him back to third base as soon as Monday.

Bautista started 45 games at third base last season and was initially slated to return there this year, but the Blue Jays decided during spring training to give Edwin Encarnacion a shot at the hot corner instead. That didn’t work out very well and Toronto third basemen have hit just .177 overall.

Top prospect Brett Lawrie would have gotten the call to step in at third base already, but he’s been slow to recover from a hand injury at Triple-A. In the meantime Bautista volunteered to play wherever the team needs him most and this move allows the Blue Jays to get another good bat like Travis Snider or Eric Thames into the lineup in the outfield.

Next month Bautista will start the All-Star game as an outfielder.

Mike Rizzo and Shawn Kelley almost got into a physical confrontation

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A few weeks back the Washington Nationals designated reliever Shawn Kelley for assignment the morning after he threw his glove into the ground and glared at the Nats dugout in frustration after giving up a homer in a blowout win against the Mets. He was later traded to the Athletics. Nats GM Mike Rizzo said at that time that he thought Kelley was trying to show up his manager and that there was no room for that sort of thing on the team, offering an “either you’re with us or you’re working against us” sentiment in the process.

Today the Washington Post talks about all of the Nationals’ bullpen woes of late, and touches on the departure of Kelley as being part of the problem. In so doing, we learn that, on the night of Kelley’s mound tantrum, he and Rizzo almost got into a physical confrontation:

Rizzo headed down to the clubhouse and confronted Kelley, according to people familiar with the situation. The argument became heated, including raised voices, and eventually it almost became physical, according to people familiar with the exchange. Adam Eaton got between the two of them and separated them before things could advance further . . .

Might I point out that, the fact of this emerging now helps to vindicate Brandon Kintzler who, the day before, was traded away, some say, for being the source for negative reports from inside the Nats’ clubhouse?

That aside, the article does not make anyone look good, really. Rizzo had the backing of his team with the Kelley incident, but the overall story — how did the Nats’ bullpen, which was once a strength — get so bad? — does no favors for Rizzo. Mostly because he seems to have thought that they had so much extra bullpen depth that they could afford to deal away Kintzler, which he says was a financial move, not a punitive trade for being a media source.

Question: when was the last time you heard a baseball man say he had too much relief pitching? Especially today, in which the bullpen has assumed such a prominent role? Seems rather unreasonable to cut relievers when you’re trying mightily to come back from a sizable deficit in the standings, yes?