The latest on HGH testing: Bud embarks on another "study"

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HGH.jpgBud Selig says baseball’s new science adviser — Dr. Gary Green — is examining the human growth hormone blood
test
that the World Anti-Doping Agency (“WADA”) is peddling but he isn’t sure when
the study will be completed.

This is classic Bud: when he doesn’t want to deal with something he commissions another “study.”  I’m assuming that the HGH test study will be complete some time after the “What should we do with the Athletics” study, which has been pending for well over a year now despite the fact that everyone knows what the result will be. I’ve been critical of that particular bit of foot-dragging, but in the case of the HGH test I’m just fine with it.

Why? Because the WADA HGH test is basically useless, because WADA is a publicity and profit-seeking shakedown operation, and that because no one ever calls them on it, Selig is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t.

As Murray Chass noted yesterday WADA’s head — Dr. Gary Wadler — is the go-to quote of choice whenever a steroids story pops up, selling his organization’s agenda and products as though he were an independent scholar or something. The effect of this is that anyone who exhibits opposition to WADA, even on legitimate grounds, has come to be seen by the media and the public as not being serious about combating PED use. And that’s even the case if the WADA product in question — an HGH blood test — is of dubious efficacy.

Bud Selig and baseball were late to the anti-PED party, but they’re pretty well-versed in it now. They know that WADA’s blood test has caught exactly one offender in several years, and even then it was because the authorities were tipped off about the guy using drugs beforehand. Because of that, they know that it’s probably a useless test that they’d never be able to sell to the players’ union.

But they also know that simply rejecting it out of hand would make them appear soft on PEDs and would lead to a bunch of articles — with critical quotes from Dr. Gary Wadler, natch — excoriating them. Articles that fail to note that the same man tut-tutting baseball is out to make a buck.

So what to do about it? Stall! Commission a study. Punt the issue for several months if not longer. And you know what? It’s the smart play.

Reid Brignac is trying to become a switch hitter

LAKE BUENA VISTA, FL - FEBRUARY 26:  Reid Brignac #4 of the Atlanta Braves poses on photo day at Champion Stadium on February 26, 2016 in Lake Buena Vista, Florida.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images
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Veteran utilityman Reid Brignac is in camp with the Astros on a minor league deal. The 31-year-old is close to being done as a major leaguer as he owns a career .219/.264/.309 triple-slash line across parts of nine seasons. In an effort to prolong his big league career, Brignac is now attempting to become a switch-hitter, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports.

I’m going to try it out this year. It was something that I just thought long and hard about and I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to try and see how it goes.’ I used to switch-hit when I was younger off and on, nothing consistent. I could always handle the bat right-handed. I play golf right-handed, so I do a lot of things that way that feel natural.

I just want to get to the point where I’m trying to stay in games, not get pinch-hit for, not starting games because a lefty is starting. … That could help me stay in the games longer. I’m trying to add a new element. I play multiple positions and now if I can switch hit and be consistent at it, then that can only help me.

As Brignac mentions, he’s also verstile. He’s a shortstop by trade, but has also logged plenty of innings at second base and third base, and has occasionally played corner outfield.

There aren’t any examples — at least that I can think of — where players began switch-hitting late in their careers and actually succeeding in the major leagues. As the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But here’s hoping Brignac bucks the trend.

Video: Andrelton Simmons makes a heads-up play to catch Carlos Asuaje off first base

ANAHEIM, CA - AUGUST 03:  Andrelton Simmons #2 of the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim returns to the dugout after scoring in the second inning against the Oakland Athletics at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on August 3, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)
Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images
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Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons fell off the map a bit last year due to a combination of the Angels’ mediocrity, Simmons’ lack of offense, and a month-plus of missed action due to a torn ligament in his left thumb.

Simmons is still as good and as smart as ever on defense. That was on full display Monday when the Angels hosted the Padres for an afternoon spring exhibition.

With a runner on first base and nobody out in the top of the second inning, Carlos Asuaje grounded a 2-0 J.C. Ramirez fastball to right field. The runner, Hunter Renfroe, advanced to third base. Meanwhile, Asuaje wandered a little too far off the first base bag. Simmons cut off the throw to first base, spun around and fired to Luis Valbuena at first base. Valbuena swiped the tag on Asuaje for the first out of the inning.