Sosa buries baseball in avalanche of non-surprise

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Judging by reaction around baseball, Sammy Sosa testing positive for steroids
(just a report at this point, mind you) is akin to saying the Yankees
have a big payroll. Is anyone surprised? Ummm … that would be a big fat
no.

In fact, surprise was the word of the day. A sampling …

  • Lance Berkman is not at all surprised:
    “That’s not that surprising at all. There are just certain guys that
    you pretty much know without coming out and making an out and out
    accusation, but it does not surprise me, not even a little bit.”

  • Don’t even try to throw a surprise party for Aramis Ramirez:
    “Nothing surprises me anymore. Everybody talked about it, but I played
    with him for two years here and I never saw him do anything wrong.”

  • Joe Torre is surprised when his own player gets caught, but not
    by anyone else: “As far as being surprised, I was surprised with Manny.
    And after that, I mean, how can you be surprised anymore? After Manny,
    how can you be surprised?”

  • Lou Piniella is surprised you would even ask him about it:
    “I don’t know that much about it. Maybe if managers had been trained a
    little more in these areas, I could answer better, but I don’t know. I
    wouldn’t know a steroid from a reefer.”

  • After dealing with A-Rod and now Sosa, Rangers GM Jon Daniels seems to wish he could be surprised:
    “But it’s the same reaction as I had with Alex [Rodriguez]. You hope
    it’s not true. But, unfortunately, nothing would surprise all of us at
    this point.”

  • Don Mattingly hopes these non-surprise surprises are going to soon come to an end:
    “I don’t think it surprises anybody any more. I think it’s good that
    we’ve got a policy in place. … “Obviously, there’s a lot of guys. I’d
    just go ahead — if there’s 103 guys, let’s get ’em all out. We’ll know
    who’s who and go from there. We’ll get it over with.”

  • White Sox broadcaster Steve Stone is surprised that Sosa drew attention to himself:
    “I’m kind of surprised that he came out for an official retirement,
    because sometimes when you do that and make a comment as he made, it
    has ramifications that you can’t foresee and in this case, these are
    some of the ramifications.”

  • And perhaps most surprising is the reaction of Angels reliever Darren Oliver:
    “Better him than me. He’s the one who has to deal with it. It seems
    like if you are caught with this, you can kiss the Hall of Fame
    goodbye.”

    You want a surprise? Oliver might now have a better chance than Sosa
    at the Hall of Fame. I don’t think anyone would have expected something
    like that.

  • Johnny Monell signs with KBO’s KT Wiz

    SAN FRANCISCO, CA - JULY 06:  Johnny Monell #19 of the New York Mets runs back to the dugout after he scored in the ninth inning against the San Francisco Giants at AT&T Park on July 6, 2015 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
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    Former Mets catcher Johnny Monell signed a contract with the KT Wiz of the Korea Baseball Organization, per a report by Chris Cotillo of SB Nation. The 30-year-old originally struck a deal with the NC Dinos on Thursday, but the deal appeared to fall through at the last minute, according to Cotillo’s unnamed source.

    Monell last surfaced for the Mets during their 2015 run, batting a dismal .167/.231/.208 with two extra bases in 52 PA before the club DFA’d him to clear space for Bartolo Colon. While he’s had difficulty sticking at the major league level, he’s found a higher degree of success in the minor league circuit and holds a career .271 average over a decade of minor league play. He played exclusively in Triple-A Las Vegas during the 2016 season, slashing .276/.336/.470 with 19 home runs and a career-high 75 RBI in 461 PA.

    The veteran backstop appears to be the second MLB player to join the KT Wiz roster this offseason, as right-hander Donn Roach also signed with the club last month on a one-year, $850,000 deal.

    Phil Bickford suspended 50 games for drug of abuse

    SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 10:  Phil Bickford of the U.S. Team pitches during the SiriusXM All-Star Futures Game at PETCO Park on July 10, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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    Brewers’ right-hander Phil Bickford received a 50-game suspension after testing positive for a drug of abuse, per the Los Angeles Times’ Bill Shaikin. This is the second time Bickford has been suspended for recreational drug use, as he was previously penalized in 2015 after testing positive for marijuana prior to the amateur draft.

    Bickford was selected by the Giants in the first round of the 2015 draft and was later dealt to the Brewers for lefty reliever Will Smith at the 2016 trade deadline. He finished his 2016 campaign in High-A Brevard County, pitching to a 3.67 ERA, 10.0 K/9 rate and 5.0 BB/9 over 27 innings.

    Two other suspensions were handed down on Friday, one to Toronto minor league right-hander Pedro Loficial for a positive test for metabolites of Stanozolol and one to Miami minor league outfielder Casey Soltis for a second positive test for drugs of abuse. Loficial will serve a 72-game suspension, while Soltis will serve 50 games. All three suspensions are due to start at the beginning of the 2017 season for each respective minor league team.

    Brewers’ GM David Stearns issued a statement after the Commissioner’s Office announced Bickford’s suspension (via Vince Lara-Cinisomo of Baseball America):

    We are very disappointed to learn of Phil’s suspension, but we fully support the Minor League Baseball Drug Prevention and Testing Program and its enforcement by the Commissioner’s Office. Phil understands he made a mistake, and we fully anticipate that he will learn from this experience.