LaRoches and Weavers making brotherly history

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Adam LaRoche and Andy LaRoche both homered last night against the Twins, becoming the first brothers to do so in the same game for the Pirates since Hall of Famers Lloyd and Paul Waner in 1938.

The Waner boys
are among the best brother combos in baseball history, combining for
5,611 hits and two of my favorite nicknames. Paul was “Big Poison” and
Lloyd was “Little Poison” because a fan in New York one day decided to
heckle them as “Big and Little Person” with an accent too thick to
completely understand. Seriously.

In other brother news, Jered Weaver of the Angels and Jeff Weaver of the Dodgers are scheduled to face off Saturday for the first time. MLB.com notes
that 20 pairs of pitching brothers have matched up against each other
throughout baseball history, with the most recent coming in 2002 with
Andy Benes and Alan Benes.

Jered is obviously the superior Weaver right now, ranking second in
the AL with a 2.08 ERA while his brother is merely making a spot start
in place of the injured Eric Milton, but once upon a time Jeff was
nearly as promising. Here are the Weaver’s respective numbers through
the age of 25:

             IP      ERA     SO9     BB9
Jered 461 3.71 7.3 2.6
Jeff 793 4.30 6.1 2.5

Jeff fell apart in his age-26 season by going 7-9 with a 5.99 ERA
following a trade to the Yankees and has posted a 5.03 ERA overall
after the age of 25, whereas Jered is currently 7-2 with a 2.08 ERA as
a 26-year-old and appears destined for a much more successful career.

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.