The Rays need to make a decision on Hank Blalock

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hank blalock headshot rangers.jpgHank Blalock is (a) hitting 375/.435/.552 in Triple A; and (b) has the right to opt-out of his deal with the Rays and become a free agent if they don’t do something with him.  Yesterday, Scott Boras told Mark Topkin of the St. Pete Times that he’s poised to do just that:

“I would imagine that we’ll probably know something about Hank in the
next seven days. The time has come. The
time has come. He’s playing third base, obviously he’s hitting well,
he’s a young guy. The thought many teams had about players have come to fruition as
we expected in the first five-six weeks. I think a lot of people
understand Hank’s a better choice for them, so we’ll see. Obviously the
first hurdle is that Tampa Bay has to make their decision.”

He’s not wrong.  The Rays obviously don’t need a third baseman, but DH Pat Burrell isn’t hitting for squat right now and Carlos Pena is in a terrible slump and Blalock can play first base too.  Maybe the Rays think it’s too much of a jolt to team chemistry to call Blalock up to replace either of those guys, but calling him up to sit on the bench doesn’t enhance his trade value either.

The Mariners would probably trade a prospect, their moose, Ken Griffey’s pajamas and Mike Sweeney’s boxing gloves to have Blalock right now.  I’m not sure if they match up well with the Rays’ interests, of course, but I’m having a hard time seeing Tampa Bay simply let a valuable asset simply walk right now.

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.