The fact that ballplayers are using a spray made from ground up deer antlers as some sort of performance enhancer a la HGH is not news. We wrote about it back in January. What’s new, per Tom Verducci at Sports Illustrated, is that Major League Baseball sent a warning to players last week that they shouldn’t use a particular brand of the deer antler spray because it could lead to positive drug test results due to contamination of some kind.
As I noted back in January, the funniest thing about the deer antler spray business is not that it’s, you know, deer antler spray. It’s that players are taking it — and the league is at least starting to get a bit worried about it — despite the fact that there is no evidence whatsoever that it actually enhances athletic performance in any way. Yes, the active ingredient — a substance called IGF-1 — is one of the main proteins in human growth hormone, but they haven’t linked HGH to any performance enhancement either.
I predict that eventually we’ll have outraged interviews with WADA officials about how baseball has no test for deer antlers and thus doesn’t take PEDs seriously and all of that attendant baloney.
And that’s before PETA gets involved.
NOTE: The pic comes from the cartoon that I thought was, bar-none, the funniest thing I ever saw when I was a kid. To this day, my brother and I repeat the “yeah, he had antlers like this!” line.
Last night Robinson Cano hit a solo homer in the ninth inning of the Mariners’ loss to the Texas Rangers. It was his 22nd on the season. Though it was insignificant to the outcome of that game, it was significant to Cano: it was his 300th career homer.
While we’ve become accustomed to not caring much about home run milestones south of, say, 500, 300 homers for Cano is a big deal, as he’s only the third second baseman to cross that threshold in baseball history. The other two: Jeff Kent, at 377, and Rogers Hornsby at 301.
Cano, who turns 35 next month, has a career line of .305/.354/.495 and 1,179 RBI, 512 doubles and 33 triples to go with those bombs. He’s in his 13th big league season and still has six more years left on his deal with the Mariners. He’s averaged 24 homers a year since coming to the Mariners. While he’ll obviously trail off at some point — and while great second baseman’s have this weird habit of just suddenly falling off a cliff — it’s highly likely that he’ll finish his career as the all-time home run leader among second baseman. If he remains healthy he should also get over 3,000 hits in his career.
Cooperstown, here he comes.
Mark Sheldon of MLB.com reports that the Reds have signed catcher Tucker Barnhart to a four-year contract extension. The terms: $16 million total, with a $7.5 million club option for the 2022 season that has a $500,000 buyout. He also received a $1.75 million signing bonus.
The deal buys out all three of his arbitration years — he was going to be eligible for the first time this offseason — and the first year of his potential free agency. The club option buys a second. Barnhart made $575,000 this season.
Barnhart, 26, is finishing his second season as the Reds primary catcher. This year he’s hitting .272/.349/.399 with six homers and 42 RBI in 113 games. For his career he has a line of .257/.328/.366 in 330 major league games. His real value is defensive, however. He leads the National League in caught stealing percentage and number of base stealers caught (31-for-70, 44%) and leads all players at any position in the league in defensive WAR according to Baseball-Reference.com.