Report: MLB to begin testing for HGH

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According to Michael S. Schmidt of the New York Times, MLB’s new collective bargaining agreement, which is set to be announced early next week, will include blood testing for human growth hormone (HGH).

Here are some of the details:

The bargaining agreement, which could be announced early next week, calls for blood testing to begin in February, when players report to spring training. Players who test positive will face a 50-game suspension, which will be the same as the first-time penalty for a positive steroid test, according to the two people.

If Schmidt’s report proves correct, baseball will be the first of the major North American professional sports leagues to implement blood testing for drugs among unionized players. The NFL and NFLPA tentatively agreed to test for HGH in their recent collective bargaining agreement, but the union has yet to approve testing procedures. Baseball currently has testing for HGH among minor league players because it doesn’t need the consent of a union. Former major leaguer Mike Jacobs was the first to test positive earlier this year.

It’s definitely a surprise to learn that the players have agreed to blood tests for HGH, but if MLB uses the same type of testing they have in the minor leagues, this could be as much about positive P.R. as actually catching someone. Stay tuned.

Report: MLB likely to unilaterally implement pace of play changes

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ESPN’s Jerry Crasnick reports that talks between Major League Baseball and the MLB Players’ Association concerning pace of play changes have stalled, which makes it more likely that commissioner Rob Manfred unilaterally implements the changes he seeks. Those changes include a pitch clock and a restriction on catcher mound visits.

Manfred said, “My preferred path is a negotiated agreement with the players. But if we can’t get an agreement, we are going to have rule changes in 2018, one way or the other.”

The players have made several suggestions aimed at reducing the length of games, such as amending replay review rules, strictly monitoring down time between innings, and bringing back bullpen carts.

It is believed that MLB is proposing a pitch clock of 20 seconds. If a pitcher takes too long between pitches, he will have a ball added to the count. If the hitter takes too long, then he will have a strike added to the count.