Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports that Marlins catcher Ronny Paulino has been suspended 50 games after testing positive for a performance-enhancing drug.
Numerous minor leaguers have been suspended for PED usage this year, but Paulino and Edinson Volquez are the only major leaguers to get the 50-game ban. Last season Manny Ramirez and J.C. Romero were two big leaguers suspended.
Paulino began this season as the Marlins’ backup catcher, but was forced into the lineup thanks to John Baker’s elbow injury and has started 84 of the team’s 120 games while hitting .259/.311/.354 with four homers in 344 plate appearances.
Baker is slated to return from the disabled list by the end of this month and in the meantime the Marlins will likely lean on 26-year-old rookie Brett Hayes as their primary backstop. And because there are only 42 games remaining on the Marlins’ schedule, Paulino’s suspension will carry over to the first eight games of next season.
UPDATE: Paulino issued a statement saying that he tested positive for “a dietary pill” used “to control my weight this season.” He also apologized:
I recently learned that the dietary pill contained a substance banned under Major League Baseball’s drug policy. I am ashamed and saddened for disappointing and distracting my family, my teammates, the entire Florida Marlins’ organization, and baseball fans. My heartfelt and most sincere apology.
I accept full responsibility and all consequences for this mistake and therefore, choose not to challenge my suspension. I was irresponsible for failing to take all precautionary steps in confirming the approval of the dietary pill. Without a doubt, I have learned from my mistake.
I know we’ll all sleep better tonight knowing Ronny Paulino and his gut are off the street. Or something.
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.
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.