With Holliday signed, Damon still looking for new deal

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Johnny Damon, the unfortunate victim of the lengthy Matt Holliday negotiations, is still awaiting his next contract.

“Well, I knew I’d have to wait until some of the bigger hitters like Jason Bay and Matt Holliday went
places, and now I’m just waiting to see what’s in store for me,” Damon
said. “I knew I’d probably have to take a pay cut, just based on the
way the economy is in this country and baseball, but I thought I had a
productive season and I think I showed people I can play and still do
something at a high level.”

He told Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe that he approached the Yankees
with an annual salary of $10 million, but they were more comfortable
with a contract in the $6-7
million range. Not willing to take a pay cut, he hasn’t had any
conversations with the Bombers lately. While further talks wouldn’t surprise
him, he’s “just kind of going on” with his life. One possible destination that has emerged
is the Braves, whose Disney Spring Training complex is just a few
minutes from his home in Orlando.

“Atlanta would be great,” he said. “I’m wide open. There are a handful
of teams who, in my opinion, could win and I’d like to see what kind of
availability there would be with those clubs.”

The Braves could have a unique opportunity to take advantage of the
market and sign Damon on an Adrian Beltre-type deal, but if his price
drops far enough, I’d never say never on the Yankees. Gee, it’s like
they knew it would take Matt Holliday forever to sign, leaving Damon
grasping at straws to find a lucrative deal before Spring Training.

Carlos Ruiz leaves a goodbye note for the Phillies

CLEARWATER, FL - FEBRUARY 26:  Carlos Ruiz #51 of the Philadelphia Phillies poses for a portrait on February 26, 2016 at Bright House Field in Clearwater, Florida.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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And then there was one. One player from the 2008 World Series champs, that is. Ryan Howard likely isn’t going anywhere so he’ll be the last one to turn the lights off, but today Carlo Ruiz bid adieu to the Phillies following his trade to Los Angeles.

Lost in all of the emotions the Dodgers are reported to be feeling about A.J. Ellis leaving is the fact that Ruiz was one of the most beloved Phillies players ever, by both his teammates and their fans. Yesterday Roy Halladay penned a heartfelt goodbye to Ruiz, suggesting that he was every bit as essential to his and the Phillies’ success as Ellis has been to Clayton Kershaw (and in pure baseball production, obviously, quite more).

Today Chooch left a message for his now former teammates:

A far-fetched sounding drug test scam

NES TSIONA, ISRAEL - JANUARY 22:  A laboratory technician checks human blood samples before placing the glass tubes on an automated testing line at the Maccabi Health Services HMO central laboratory January 22, 2006 in Nes Tsiona which is located in central Israel. The laboratory, which operates a fully automated system complete with advanced robotics, can test more than 50,000 blood samples a day. The lab is considered one of the most modern of its kind in the western world.  (Photo by David Silverman/Getty Images)
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Kevin Draper at Deadspin is passing along a story — and that’s not me editorializing; he’s admitting that it’s unconfirmed gossip at the moment — about a major league player paying a teammate $2.5 million to take the fall for him on a drug test. The story came via a tip from someone who, apparently, had a conversation about the drug test scam with a college baseball player who knew the players allegedly involved in the scam.

Here is how the conversation was recounted:

College Baseball Player: [MLB player’s star teammate] paid him to take his blood test. $2.5 million dollars.

Bar Patron: How does that even work?

College Baseball Player: [MLB player] and [MLB player’s star teammate] were getting tested the same day. They traded samples.

Deadspin says that the story is “probably bulls**t” but that some preliminary investigating they’ve done doesn’t disprove it and, to some extent corroborates it. How it’s been supported or not is left unclear and Deadspin couches all of this in a request for more information if anyone has any. Which, OK, fine.

I’ll offer that, on the surface, this seems like a bit more than mere “bulls**t.” It sounds structurally impossible. If it’s a blood test for HGH as the excerpt suggests, the samples are tested back in the lab to make sure they match up with previous samples. Meaning: the lab processing the sample knows if it’s your blood or not. If it’s a urine test, as Deadspin thinks it may have been, I’m not sure how samples could be switched given that urine tests are directly observed by testing officials. Yes, they watch you pee. They’d likely prevent you from peeing right next to your bro teammate, but even if you did, they’d see you exchange little plastic containers of urine with him.

I’m not going to say that this is 100% bull because we can’t really know for sure, but the scenario as described sounds highly unlikely, approaching the impossible. If someone had a story about bribing a sample taker with $2.5 million well, hey, maybe we’re getting somewhere, because that would get you over some procedural hurdles. For now, though, this all sounds like someone passing along a tall tale.

If it is true? Hoo boy, that’d be fun. At least for people like me who write about this stuff.