Rangers manager Ron Washington tested positive for cocaine last year

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Ron Washington.jpgWow:

Texas Rangers manager Ron Washington tested positive for cocaine during the 2009 season, SI.com has learned. Washington, 57, has been subject to increased drug testing since his
failed test, which was administered by Major League Baseball last July,
and he has passed all of his subsequent tests. In deciding to support
Washington and retain him as manager, the Rangers accepted his apology
as heartfelt and also his explanation that this was a one-time
transgression.

I just finished reading a book called The Pittsburgh Cocaine Seven by Aaron Skirboll. It won’t be released for several months, but when it comes out you’ll definitely want to read it.  It details the Pittsburgh cocaine trials of 1985 and the crazy, coke-filled years Major League Baseball experienced leading up to them.

Ron Washington played during the years chronicled in that book. Between the time frame of his heyday and that of the book, my first impression of this news it to be skeptical of the “one-time transgression” language of the team’s statement.  How many people try
coke for the first time at age 57?  Especially those who worked in an environment absolutely lousy with cocaine for so many years of their youth?

That said, I like Ron Washington as much as the next guy, and I’m happy to see that he has passed subsequent testing.  I’m also pleased to see the Rangers give him another shot rather than do the easy thing, which would be to cut him loose. By all accounts he’s been a loyal guy and his players are said to like him. People deserve second chances.    

Yankees sign top two draft picks

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The Yankees signed first-round draft pick Clarke Schmidt and second-round pick Matt Sauer on Saturday, per a team announcement. Schmidt, a right-hander from the University of South Carolina, is set to earn a signing bonus of $2,184,300. According to MLB.com’s Oliver Macklin, that’s much lower than the typical $3+ million allocated for a No. 16 overall pick. The opposite is true for Sauer, whose projected $2.5 million signing bonus tops the suggested $1.2 million reserved for a No. 54 pick.

Schmidt, 21, boasts an impressive four-pitch repertoire and profiles as a front-end or mid-rotation starter, according to reports from Yankees’ VP of Domestic Amateur Scouting Damon Oppenheimer and ESPN’s Keith Law, among others. He carried a 4-2 record through nine starts in 2017 and turned in a 1.34 ERA before undergoing season-ending Tommy John surgery last month to repair a torn UCL in his right elbow. While the Yankees won’t see him pitch at any level until late 2018, they seem confident in his makeup and ability to rebound over the next couple of years.

Fellow right-hander and Righetti High School senior Matt Sauer is a different story altogether. The 18-year-old hurler appears destined for the bullpen with a polished fastball-slider combo and a promising curveball and changeup. He dazzled on the mound this year, going 9-1 with an 0.98 ERA and two shutouts over 78 1/3 innings. While the Yankees seem most interested in his pitching skills, Sauer showed some pop at the plate as well, touting a .427 average with 24 RBI through 135 plate appearances.

Three A’s rookies hit their first big league home runs on Saturday

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The Athletics followed Friday’s 3-0 shutout with a rookie-led home run derby on Saturday afternoon, watching not one, not two, but three rookies belt their first major league home runs off of the White Sox’ James Shields.

Right fielder Matt Olson was the first to strike, taking Shields deep on a first-pitch, two-run blast in the first inning for his first home run in 49 major league plate appearances:

Fellow outfielder Jaycob Brugman duplicated his teammate’s results in the second inning with a solo home run, his first extra-base hit of any kind since he made his debut on June 9:

In the third, with a comfortable 4-0 lead backing two scoreless frames from Oakland right-hander Daniel Gossett, Franklin Barreto took his shot at Shields. After getting the call several hours prior to Saturday’s game, he became the fastest of the three rookies to record his first big league homer, going yard on a 2-2 changeup and driving in Bruce Maxwell to give the A’s a six-run advantage.

The Athletics currently lead the White Sox 8-2 in the top of the sixth inning.