Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun is passionately fighting a positive performance-enhancing drug test result that would land him a 50-game suspension if upheld at an arbitration hearing in January. His side of the story: the result was false — a false positive.
Braun told Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel late Saturday night that he’s “completely innocent” of using synthetic testosterone, and now a source close to the 2011 National League MVP has suggested to Teri Thompson of the New York Daily News that the results of the positive test were too high to be taken seriously. As in, they were at a dangerous level.
Here’s more from Thompson and the Daily News:
Ryan Braun’s original test for performance-enhancing drugs as the playoffs were winding down in October was “insanely high, the highest ever for anyone who has ever taken a test, twice the level of the highest test ever taken,” said a source familiar with the developing case in which Ryan was reported to have tested positive for an elevated level of testosterone caused by a synthetic substance, triggering a possible 50-game suspension.
The never-before-seen ratio, according to the source, is one of several “highly unusual circumstances.”
Braun will likely enlist doctors and health experts to help plead his case — that an elite athlete wouldn’t mess around with such crazy levels of testosterone. But here’s the other side: Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports spoke Sunday with a source connected to the World Anti-Doping Agency — a group of scientists who got a look at Braun’s test sample — and was told that a false-positive is “almost impossible.”
Also, a source told the Daily News that Major League Baseball has never overturned a PED test appeal. Players are 0-for-13. So even if the almost-impossible happened, it might not really matter for Braun.
Veteran utilityman Reid Brignac is in camp with the Astros on a minor league deal. The 31-year-old is close to being done as a major leaguer as he owns a career .219/.264/.309 triple-slash line across parts of nine seasons. In an effort to prolong his big league career, Brignac is now attempting to become a switch-hitter, MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart reports.
I’m going to try it out this year. It was something that I just thought long and hard about and I was like, ‘OK, I’m going to try and see how it goes.’ I used to switch-hit when I was younger off and on, nothing consistent. I could always handle the bat right-handed. I play golf right-handed, so I do a lot of things that way that feel natural.
I just want to get to the point where I’m trying to stay in games, not get pinch-hit for, not starting games because a lefty is starting. … That could help me stay in the games longer. I’m trying to add a new element. I play multiple positions and now if I can switch hit and be consistent at it, then that can only help me.
As Brignac mentions, he’s also verstile. He’s a shortstop by trade, but has also logged plenty of innings at second base and third base, and has occasionally played corner outfield.
There aren’t any examples — at least that I can think of — where players began switch-hitting late in their careers and actually succeeding in the major leagues. As the saying goes, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks. But here’s hoping Brignac bucks the trend.
Angels shortstop Andrelton Simmons fell off the map a bit last year due to a combination of the Angels’ mediocrity, Simmons’ lack of offense, and a month-plus of missed action due to a torn ligament in his left thumb.
Simmons is still as good and as smart as ever on defense. That was on full display Monday when the Angels hosted the Padres for an afternoon spring exhibition.
With a runner on first base and nobody out in the top of the second inning, Carlos Asuaje grounded a 2-0 J.C. Ramirez fastball to right field. The runner, Hunter Renfroe, advanced to third base. Meanwhile, Asuaje wandered a little too far off the first base bag. Simmons cut off the throw to first base, spun around and fired to Luis Valbuena at first base. Valbuena swiped the tag on Asuaje for the first out of the inning.