Nick Johnson sidelined by back injury

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nick johnson swinging.jpgYankees DH Nick Johnson has missed two games in a row and is likely out until Tuesday due to lingering back stiffness, according to Chad Jennings of The Journal News.

Johnson isn’t concerned that it will be a long-term issue, for what it’s worth.  But he has been plagued by injuries for most of his career and any kind of ailment is rightfully going to be met with a speculative eye. 

The 31-year-old Johnson is batting just .135 in 52 at-bats this season, but he has drawn 18 walks in 16 games for a .375 on-base percentage.  And that’s exactly why he bats in the two-hole for the Yanks, ahead of perennial All-Stars like Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira and Robinson Cano.   New York is off to a 12-5 start this year, right behind the Tampa Bay Rays in the American League East standings.

Five minor leaguers suspended for drug violations

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NEW YORK (AP) Five minor league pitchers have been suspended for drug violations.

The commissioner’s office announced the penalties Tuesday.

Three of the players are part of the Toronto system. Right-hander Juan Jimenez and left-hander Naswell Paulino were each suspended for 72 games, and righty Jol Concepcion was banned for 60 games. Jimenez, Paulino and Concepcion tested for Boldenone, a performance-enhancing substance.

Jimenez and Paulino are on the roster for the rookie-level Dominican Summer League Blue Jays, and Concepcion is on the roster of the rookie-level Gulf Coast League Blue Jays.

Kansas City minor leaguer Travis Eckert and free-agent lefty Kevin Duchene each tested positive for a drug of abuse. Eckert was suspended for 50 games following a second positive test, and Duchene received a 100-game penalty following a third positive test.

Eckert is on the roster for Single-A Lexington of the South Atlantic League.

There have been 79 suspensions under the minor league drug program this year and five under the major league program.