Yankees first baseman Greg Bird has followed a sensational spring training with a horrid April, having hit .107/.254/.214 with 21 strikeouts in 67 plate appearances, but the team will be patient with the 24-year-old. Asked Sunday if Bird is a candidate for a minor league demotion, general manager Brian Cashman said, “It’s not even an option for me in my mind right now, at all” (Twitter link via Bryan Hoch of MLB.com). The Yankees’ other first baseman, Chris Carter, hasn’t fared much better than Bird (.182/.222/.333 in 36 PAs), but their woes haven’t stopped the Bombers from posting a major league-best 15-7 record.
Even more surprising is that the Yankees’ success has come without arguably their best player, catcher Gary Sanchez, who landed on the disabled list April 8 with a right biceps strain. Fortunately for New York, Sanchez is nearing a return – he’ll start a Triple-A rehab assignment Tuesday and could rejoin the big club next weekend, reports Sweeny Murti of WFAN (on Twitter). The Yankees began 1-4 with Sanchez and have gone 14-3 without him, thanks in part to the fact that reserve backstop Austin Romine has filled in with aplomb. The normally light-hitting Romine has unexpectedly done a decent Sanchez impersonation with a .300/.339/.460 line in 56 PAs.
More from the East Coast:
- Mets first baseman Lucas Duda, on the disabled list since April 21 with a hyperextended left elbow, will stay on the DL beyond the 10-day mark. Duda felt a “twinge” in his elbow after playing a rehab game Friday, and the Mets have shut him down until Tuesday as a result, per Kristie Ackert of the New York Daily News. The Mets’ offense is just 17th in the majors in runs and 26th in wRC+, so a longer-than-expected absence for Duda isn’t optimal (especially with Yoenis Cespedes also out). With a .238/.360/.571 line in 50 trips to the plate, Duda has been one of the slow-starting club’s top performers this year.
- Given that the Phillies’ Tommy Joseph is off to a dreadful start this season (.190/.235/.270 in 68 PAs), he could lose time at first base to left fielder Howie Kendrick when the latter comes off the DL, writes Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com. Kendrick got some work at first during batting practice in each of the past two days, and shifting him there would enable the Phillies to keep left fielder Aaron Altherr’s bat in the lineup, notes Salisbury. First base isn’t foreign to the 33-year-old Kendrick, who has seen action in 89 games there. The offseason trade acquisition from the Dodgers slashed a stellar .333/.395/.487 in 43 PAs before going on the DL on April 18 with an abdominal strain.
- Outfielder Colby Rasmus is closing in on his Rays debut, according to Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times (Twitter link). Rasmus, who’s working his way back from the hip and core muscle surgeries he underwent as an Astro last October, will play a Double-A rehab game Sunday and could be on the Rays’ 25-man roster by Tuesday or Wednesday. The Rays signed Rasmus to a one-year contract worth a guaranteed $5MM in January.