Marlon Byrd is still taking whatever Victor Conte gives him

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I shook my head last year when Yahoo! first reported the relationship between Marlon Byrd and former BALCO bad boy and “cream” and “clear” creator Victor Conte. The upshot: Conte supplies Byrd with all manner of supplements, the identity and nature of which Byrd has only the vaguest notions. Byrd was then and remains today the only Major League Baseball player who works with Conte.

Yahoo!’s Steve Henson updates the story today and not much has changed.  We do learn, however, that after last year’s story came out Major League Baseball went ballistic at one of its players working with Conte and demanded a meeting with Byrd over it all.  That never happened, apparently because MLB realized that Byrd (a) hadn’t failed any drug tests; (b) has always been a good baseball citizen; and (c) was still an American citizen with some freakin’ rights, dadgummit.

My head-shaking over it all wasn’t (and still isn’t) inspired the same thing that sparked Major League Baseball’s ire — the mere association with Conte — my thing was Byrd’s seemingly total trust in the guy. In last year’s story Byrd said he never even asks what’s in the supplements he’s given by Conte, and there is no indication in today’s article that he’s acquired any additional curiosity.

And, hell, now that I think about it, maybe it’s better that he’s going through Conte than diving into the supplement world himself. As we’ve learned in recent years, a large number of over-the-counter supplements contained banned substances, many of which aren’t even listed on the label. It would be easy for someone to mess up and take a banned substance. At least Conte has (a) expertise; and (b) the motive to grow his business from its post-BALCO ashes. He knows that if one of his athletes test positive for something he’s beyond ruined.

But even if I don’t subscribe to the idea of guilt by association, it is rather amazing to me that a ballplayer would associate with Conte in this day and age.  I like Byrd so I hope it doesn’t burn him, but man, I don’t know that I’d take that chance.   

Report: Royals and Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension

SAN DIEGO, CA - JULY 12:  Eric Hosmer #35 of the Kansas City Royals and the American League rounds the bases after hitting a home run against the National League in the 2nd inning of the 87th Annual MLB All-Star Game at PETCO Park on July 12, 2016 in San Diego, California.  (Photo by Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
Denis Poroy/Getty Images
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Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports that the Royals and first baseman Eric Hosmer have discussed a long-term contract extension. However, Hosmer also indicated that he will head into free agency if a deal is not consummated by Opening Day.

Hosmer, 27, avoided arbitration with the Royals last month, agreeing to a $12.25 million salary for the 2017 season. He is one of four key Royals players who can become a free agent after the season along with Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar, and Lorenzo Cain. If Hosmer does reach free agency, he would arguably be the top free agent first baseman.

Hosmer finished the past season hitting .266/.328/.433 with 25 home runs and 104 RBI while making his first All-Star team.

Yankees sign Jon Niese to a minor league deal

PHOENIX, AZ - AUGUST 17:  Jonathon Niese #49 of the New York Mets delivers a pitch during the first inning against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on August 17, 2016 in Phoenix, Arizona.  (Photo by Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images)
Jennifer Stewart/Getty Images
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Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that the Yankees have signed pitcher Jon Niese to a minor league contract, pending a physical. Assuming the deal is finalized, Sherman notes that the Yankees will have Niese work as both a starter and a reliever in big league camp this spring.

According to Sherman, the Yankees were interested in lefty relievers Jerry Blevins and Boone Logan, but didn’t want to commit at their asking prices. They are looking for a lefty set-up man along with Tommy Lane.

Niese, 30, pitched for the Pirates and Mets last season, finishing with a 5.50 ERA and an 88/47 K/BB ratio over 121 innings.