We’ve noted in the past that Marlon Byrd made the strange decision a couple of years ago to start working with fomer BALCO mastermind Victor Conte. Since 2009, Conte has supplied Byrd with supplements. Byrd remains the only Major League Baseball player who works with Conte, and now, Bruce Levine reports, Byrd says that he feels the pressure about his strange association:
“I’m always going to watch what I take. I’m not going to say I have a bull’s-eye on my back, but I think a lot of people are waiting for me to get my first positive test and miss 50 games. They’d like that just so they can say, ‘We told you so.’ I know that won’t happen. I know I’m clean. I know the supplements I take are clean. I’m going to make sure of that.”
He’s always going to watch what he takes? He knows the supplements are clean? That’s the real news here, because in past reports about Byrd and Conte, Byrd has made it a point to say that he never even asked Conte what was in the supplements he was given. Rather, he just trusted him. This is from Steve Henson’s Yahoo! column in 2009:
Conte has provided the Texas Rangers center fielder with a variety of pills and powders for 18 months. Not once has Byrd asked Conte whether any of it could trigger a positive drug test.
“I didn’t need to,” Byrd said. “From our conversations, there was no need to ask.”
What has changed since 2009, when Byrd was notably not incurious, and today’s quotes to Levine? The only think I know of is that Major League Baseball raised a stink about the Byrd-Conte association, even though they were powerless to do anything about it.
Did this stink make Byrd start checking up on what his supplement provider is giving him? Or is he acting as he always did and merely wants to deflect the heat?
Mariners’ right-hander Arquimedes Caminero is nearing a deal with the Yomiuri Giants of Nippon Professional Baseball, according to Bob Dutton of the Tacoma News Tribune. The club has reportedly agreed to sell the 29-year-old’s contract, Dutton writes, though no official move has been announced by either team yet. Caminero is under club control through 2020 and currently ineligible for arbitration.
The right-hander began the 2016 season with the Pirates but was sent to the Mariners in a trade for Seattle minor leaguers Jake Brentz and Pedro Vasquez in order to clear space in the Bucs’ bullpen. With the Mariners, Caminero produced a 3.66 ERA and 8.2 K/9 through 19 2/3 innings in the second half of the year. Although he boasts an electric fastball, one which consistently averaged 98.7 m.p.h. in 2016, his success rate has been tempered by poor control throughout his major league career. According to Dutton, the Mariners’ willingness to sell Caminero’s contract was a strong indication that they did not see him as a viable contender for their 2017 bullpen or as a potential trade chip further down the line.
Should the deal go through, the right-hander will be the second former Mariner to sign with a Japanese club for the 2017 season. Per Dutton’s report, outfielder Stefen Romero also picked up a contract with the Orix Buffaloes of NPB in late November.
During the Pirates’ FanFest on Saturday, right-hander Gerrit Cole announced that he is back up to full health after being shut down with elbow inflammation in September. Per Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Cole said he’ll start a throwing program on Monday as he works on regaining his form for the 2017 season.
The 26-year-old pitched through 116 innings for the Pirates in 2016, delivering a 3.88 ERA and 2.5 WARP before landing on the disabled list in June with a triceps strain and again in August with elbow inflammation. It was a steep drop for the right-hander, who saw a considerable spike in his ERA and BB/9 rate and struggled to strike out batters at the 8.7 mark he managed in 2015.
The upside? Inflammation was the worst of Cole’s issues in 2016, and while the newfound health issues didn’t help his case for an extension, a more serious injury doesn’t appear to be on the horizon.