Rafael Palmeiro insists he never took PEDs

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Mel Antonen conducted a long interview of Rafael Palmeiro over at SI.com.  Palmeiro says that he didn’t take steroids, that his positive test from 2005 was a mix-up and that getting elected to the Hall of Fame “would mean more than anything” to him.

No one is going to believe him of course, and it’s not going to change his Hall of Fame chances one iota.  He has no shot of getting in. Not if he “comes clean,” not if he does anything. I’ve been shouting from the rooftops about making sure we understand our uncertainty when it comes to PEDs and not just assume someone did or didn’t do drugs based on their forearms or what have you. But at some point there’s enough out there to make even guys like me shake our heads and say “sorry, dude, but the benefit of the doubt is over.”  Unless someone can establish that the testing in place is entrapping guys, that line is when the player tests positive.

But like I’ve also said on a number of occasions, positive tests aren’t automatic disqualifications for me. They’re just part of the mix. I’d discount the accomplishments of a known user and do my best to figure out if PEDs made the difference between a guy being Hall-worthy or not.  In Plameiro’s case, I think it’s quite possible they were the difference.  And even if that’s a close call, his time as a DH and the ballparks he called home and the very offensive era in which he played have to dial his case down a bit too. Five-hundred homers and 3000 hits is awesome, but with all of Palmeiro’s discounts I’d have a hard time voting for the guy.

I feel bad for him because it sounds like his past five years have been a drag, but if I’m going to the Hall of Fame mat for anyone, it’s not going to be Rafael Palmerio.

Report: Cardinals, Yadier Molina making “major progress” on contract extension

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Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that the Cardinals and catcher Yadier Molina are making “major progress” on a contract extension. Molina told the team he won’t discuss an extension during the season, hence the rapid progress.

Molina is entering the last guaranteed year of a five-year, $75 million contract signed in March 2012. He and the Cardinals hold a mutual option worth $15 million with a $2 million buyout for the 2018 season. The new extension would presumably cover at least the 2018-19 seasons and likely ’20 as well.

Molina is 34 years old but is still among the most productive catchers in baseball. Last season, he hit .307/.360/.427 with 38 doubles, 58 RBI, and 56 runs scored in 581 plate appearances. Though he has lost a step or two with age, Molina is still well-regarded for his defense. The Cardinals also value his ability to handle the pitching staff.

Sandy Leon homered twice in one inning, including a grand slam

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Red Sox catcher Sandy Leon achieved a rare feat during Monday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition against the Orioles: he homered twice in one inning. One of those homers happened to be a grand slam.

Leon led off the top of the fifth inning with a solo home run off of Logan Verrett. Verrett continued to get knocked around, giving up three singles and a walk before being relieved by Brian Moran. Moran gave up a walk to load the bases, then a single to knock in a run and keep the bases loaded. Leon stepped back to the plate and swatted a grand slam to left field, making it an eight-run fifth for the Red Sox. The Sox would tack on one more before the inning was mercifully ended.

How often do players homer twice in one inning during the regular season? Not that often. Since 2010, the feat has been accomplished four times in the American League and twice in the National League. The Orioles’ Mark Trumbo was the only one to do it last year.

As for Leon, he’s on track to open the season as the starting catcher in Boston, Jason Mastrodonato of the Boston Herald reported last week.