Baseball’s annual drug report came out yesterday and the results are not terribly surprising: 3,714 drug tests and 17 positives, only two of which were for PEDs used by Edinson Volquez and Ronny Paulino. The other positives were stimulants and recreational drugs.
These test results will lead to predictable statements from the predictable parties: Major League Baseball will crow about how low the drug-use rate is and will say it’s because of its tough testing regime. The anti-drug people like the World Anti-Doping Agency* will say it’s evidence that baseball is whitewashing a no-doubt rampant drug problem. It’s just what they do.
I’m more interested in another number: 105. That’s how many players got Theraputic Use Exemptions in order to be able to take the drug Adderall and similar ADD-treatment products. They’re stimulants, by the way, and they’re otherwise banned because they work like greenies. 105 players represents around 10 percent of those players who are tested. ADD occurs in something like three percent of the population. I don’t know enough about ADD to say anything particularly intelligent here, but I am curious to know what sort of medical documentation is needed before baseball grants a Theraputic Use Exemption. A doctor’s note? An exam? Must there be some evidence of ADD diagnosis in the player as a child? Because that’s when most ADD cases present themselves.
Or is this just the big loophole?
*I love how they have the word “Agency” in their title. You usually see that in government offices because the term “agency,” quite literally, speaks to a relationship in which one acts pursuant to the instructions of a greater power. The President is too busy to forecast the weather, so he appoints agents to do so: the National Weather Service. WADA, however, is not a government organization. It does not act under the orders of someone else. It’s a self-appointed group that promotes its services and — more importantly — its seal-of-approval to sports leagues and governing bodies. The use of the word “agency” is designed to make it sound more official and more powerful than it truly is. Which tells you an awful lot about WADA.
With the 2017 World Baseball Classic around the corner, Team Israel has reportedly reached out to Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis, per MLB Network’s Jon Morosi. Tournament rules stipulate that a player’s roster eligibility can be achieved in one of several ways: they were born in the country in question or hold citizenship/permanent legal residence there (or are simply capable of qualifying for citizenship), or one of their parents was born in the country or holds citizenship/permanent legal residence there.
For Kipnis, it’s the latter. Kipnis’ father, Mark Kipnis, is Jewish. That gives Kipnis the status he needs to suit up for Team Israel, despite the fact that he is a practicing Roman Catholic. He has yet to confirm or deny his participation in the competition.
Fifteen players have confirmed for Team Israel so far, including Mets’ infielder/outfielder Ty Kelly and free agents Sam Fuld, Nate Freiman, Jason Marquis and Jeremy Bleich. Per MLB.com’s Chad Thornburg, eight minor leaguers will also appear for the team. Like Kipnis, at least three other major leaguers are eligible for Team Israel’s roster but have yet to accept or decline involvement in the WBC: Dodgers center fielder Joc Pederson, Mariners infielder/outfielder Danny Valencia and free agent left-hander Craig Breslow.
Free agent first baseman James Loney has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Rangers, per FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal includes an invite to spring training and a $1 million salary if he makes the major league roster in 2017.
Loney picked up a one-year stint and starting role with the Mets in 2016, slashing .265/.307/.397 with nine home runs in 336 PA. While his numbers were down a hair from the .280/.322/.357 batting line he produced with the Rays in 2015, he provided the Mets with a necessary, if underwhelming upgrade over an injured Lucas Duda through most of the season.
The 32-year-old infielder is expected to have some competition at first base, with at least five other candidates in the mix: Jurickson Profar, Ronald Guzman, Ryan Rua, Joey Gallo and Josh Hamilton. Rumor has it that the team is planning on platooning Rua and Profar in 2017, barring any impressive breakouts or injuries during spring training, though Loney could still provide the club with some veteran depth and a decent left-handed bat off the bench.