Paul Sax is a big baseball fan and a longtime reader of mine. He’s also a doctor who writes a blog about HIV, infectious diseases and the medical and ethical issues that surround them. He has several sharp observations today in light of the Roberto Almoar HIV allegations. Among them:
For another stark example of how HIV differs from other serious
diseases (even those related to unhealthy choices), Hall of Famer Tony
Gwynn has just been diagnosed with salivary gland cancer, likely due to chewing tobacco. The response? Mostly sympathy, very little blame or snark.
If the allegations of his wife are true and Alomar lied about or withheld information about his HIV status, he has certainly done something terribly wrong. But what if they’re not true? What if he does have HIV but he did not lie or mislead anyone about his status? What if, as seemed to be the case with last year’s lawsuit, someone is merely gunning for the guy?
If that’s the case, I’ll be curious to see how he is treated by the general public. Will he get the Gwynn treatment and be supported despite contracting what is typically an avoidable disease through — at worst — irresponsible behavior? Or will he be stigmatized?
I’d like to think we’ve come a long way regarding HIV and AIDS in the past 25 years. I fear we have not, however, and that if Alomar does have HIV, he’ll be treated like an outcast.
Oft-injured pitcher Josh Johnson is retiring from baseball, ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick is reporting.
Johnson, 32, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2013. The right-hander underwent his third Tommy John surgery in September 2015 but wasn’t able to bounce back.
Johnson spent most of his career with the Marlins, but also pitched for the Blue Jays in the big leagues, as well as the Padres in the minors. He retires with a career 3.40 ERA, 915 strikeouts across 998 innings in the majors, and two All-Star nominations. Johnson led the National League with a 2.30 ERA in 2010, finishing fifth in NL Cy Young Award balloting. One wonders what he could have accomplished if he was able to stay healthy.
The Angels are nearing a multi-year deal with free agent third baseman Luis Valbuena, Jeff Fletcher of the Orange County Register reports. It’s believed to be a two-year contract with a third-year option.
Valbuena, 31, hit .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances in 2016. He missed most of the second half with a hamstring injury, for which he underwent surgery in late August.
Valbuena has played a majority of his career at third base, but also has extensive experience at second base and has racked up innings at first base and shortstop as well. He won’t play every day for the Angels, as Yunel Escobar lays claim to third base and C.J. Cron first base, but he will give them flexibility and a left-handed bat off the bench.