Baseball thinks harder about HGH testing

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HGH.jpgMLB’s Rob Manfred attended a PED seminar yesterday and offered some more words about HGH testing in baseball:

Manfred said that the positive test in England “is an important
confirmation of the strength and science involved” in the H.G.H. blood
test and that baseball was working to apply the test on a widespread
basis.

An HGH test may or may not be workable and wonderful and all of that — I really don’t know enough about it, or the drug, to say — but I am rather surprised that everyone keeps referring to this rugby player as evidence that people need to get moving on the test. 

Why? Because all of the stories that have come out since that test note that the player wasn’t caught merely by testing. Rather, his league had intelligence (i.e. a tip) that he was using HGH, and then went to specifically test him based on that tip.  If they didn’t have the tip, they never would have caught the guy in all likelihood, because HGH doesn’t stay in the bloodstream that long. Indeed, the UK anti-doping agency that caught the guy is on record as saying that intelligence, as opposed to testing, is becoming far more important in their battle against HGH.  The same sort of intelligence that nabbed Braves’ prospect Jordan Schafer for HGH just last year.

I don’t offer this to slam baseball’s desire to implement HGH testing. As with most things, a combination approach is best. Do some testing if it makes sense. Use intelligence too. It’s all good.  It’s just probably worth remembering that there is more to life than just testing, and that, contrary to what so many writers say, the presence or absence of an HGH test doesn’t automatically render baseball’s drug program effective or ineffective.  

Watch: Ryan Goins tags Todd Frazier with the hidden ball trick

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The Yankees are facing a convoluted path to the postseason, and they didn’t do themselves any favors after Todd Frazier fell for Ryan Goins‘ hidden ball trick in the third inning of Friday’s series opener. With one out and Frazier on second base, Jacoby Ellsbury skied a deep fly ball to right field, where it was caught by Jose Bautista just shy of the warning track and tossed back to Goins at second. Goins faked the throw to Marco Estrada, then sneakily (or not so sneakily, depending on your vantage point) gloved the ball and caught Frazier off the bag for the third out.

Of course, it helped that Frazier’s back was turned during the throw, so Goins’ fake-out may not have been as obvious as it was when the Yankees reviewed the tape several minutes later.

Goins earned another spot on the highlight reel in the sixth inning, mashing his second grand slam of the season while Frazier — and the rest of the Yankees’ offense, sans one home-run-record-slaying Aaron Judge — scrambled to catch up. The Yankees currently trail the Blue Jays 8-1 in the bottom of the eighth inning, and will need to pull off a comeback (and hope the Astros and Athletics clinch their respective games) before they can lay claim to a playoff spot.

Blue Jays shut down Steve Pearce for the rest of 2017

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The Blue Jays have shut down left fielder Steve Pearce for the remainder of the season following a lingering case of lower back stiffness. Pearce has not appeared in a game since September 8, when he was forced to exit in the first inning after experiencing back pain during his at-bat. Per Ben Nicholson-Smith of Sportsnet.ca, he’s scheduled to return to Florida next week, where he’ll receive epidural injections to address the pain.

Pearce, 34, impressed in his first season with Toronto. He battled through a calf injury during the first half of the season and finished the year with a modest .252/.319/.438 batting line, 13 home runs and a .757 OPS through 348 PA. By September, the Blue Jays started testing the waters with outfield prospect Teoscar Hernandez, who shouldered the bulk of the starts in left field after Pearce was sidelined with back issues.

With the Blue Jays all but eliminated from playoff contention, however, there’s no rush to get Pearce back to the outfield. He should be in fine shape to compete for another starting role in spring, and could face stiff competition from Hernandez if the rookie continues building on his .278 average and three home runs this month. The veteran outfielder is slated to receive the remaining $6.25 million on his contract in 2018 and will be eligible for free agency in 2019.