At some point within the next few weeks, Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun will have the opportunity to plead his innocence against a charge that he was taking performance-enhancing drugs around the start of the 2011 postseason. But he faces great odds.
The evidence against him comes in the form of a test, administered in either late September or early October, that had a positive reading for elevated levels of testosterone. That test was then passed along to the World Anti-Doping Agency lab in Montreal, where it was determined through further examination that the testosterone was synthetic — not produced by Braun’s body.
Braun might argue that the result was a false-positive, but an expert in the field of drug testing told Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports last month that those are “almost impossible” with today’s technology. Braun might say that result was triggered by a prescribed medication — something non-performance-enhancing — but how can he prove that and would it really matter if he could? The test showed insanely high levels of unnatural testosterone. However that testosterone arrived in Braun’s system, it’s against the rules for it to be there.
And even if Braun is telling the truth, and has never put synthetic testosterone into his body, a test that boasts an accuracy rating of nearly 100 percent says that the stuff was, at one point, present.
Which leads us to a report from Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, who was told this weekend by an “MLB official familiar with the process” that Braun’s 50-game suspension is unlikely to be overturned. The 2011 NL MVP deserves his day in court, and he’ll get it later this month when he presents his case in front of an arbitrator, but it’s nearly certain that he’ll miss close to one-third of the 2012 campaign.
The Athletics placed left-hander Sean Manaea on the 10-day disabled list with a shoulder strain, according to a team announcement on Sunday. The move is retroactive to April 27, when Manaea was lifted from his last start after experiencing shoulder tightness. Manager Bob Melvin told reporters that he only expects Manea to miss one start during his stint on the DL, as the team is planning to utilize right-hander Sonny Gray in his place on Tuesday.
Manaea, 25, has yet to find his footing in his sophomore season with the Athletics. Over five starts, including his abbreviated outing against the Angels last Wednesday, the left-hander carries a 5.18 ERA, 3.28 FIP and 10.0 SO/9 through 24 1/3 innings. Even when healthy, control issues have spoiled some of his more dominant outings, doubling his walk rate per nine innings from the 2.2 BB/9 mark he posted during his rookie season in 2016.
With Manaea due back in the rotation by May 7, the A’s will eventually need to clear roster space to accommodate him. Susan Slusser of the San Francisco Chronicle speculates that the decision could come down to right-handers Jesse Hahn and Jharel Cotton, though the team is still several days away from any formal announcement. Cotton has looked like two wildly different pitchers over his last five starts, tossing two-hit shutouts on his good days and getting shelled with 5-6 runs on his bad days. Hahn, meanwhile, has been a steadier presence in Oakland’s rotation, and his 2.08 ERA and eight-inning shutout should keep him in the majors a while longer, especially if he can replicate those results against the Astros on Sunday.
Mets’ right-hander Noah Syndergaard will take the hill on Sunday afternoon, just three days after he was scratched from a start due to right biceps tendinitis and shoulder discomfort. Syndergaard told reporters that he refused recommended medical testing on his arm because he felt “ready to go” after taking anti-inflammation medication and tossing a bullpen session on Friday. “I think I know my body best,” the right-hander said. “I’m pretty in tune with my body, and that’s exactly why I refused to take the MRI.”
It’s an unusual decision for a pitcher who has already succumbed to several serious arm issues, some as recent as last season, but as club GM Sandy Alderson told the New York Times’ James Wagner, the Mets aren’t in a position to force the issue.
This is a tense time for the Mets, whose lineup has been fraught with injuries of nearly every variety, from Yoenis Cespedes‘ hamstring issue to Steven Matz‘s elbow inflammation and David Wright‘s cervical disc herniation. Syndergaard’s setback last week didn’t appear too serious, but it would make sense for the team to take things slowly with their best still-healthy hurler. Instead, they’ll push forward on Sunday against the Nationals and hope that Syndergaard’s read on his biceps issue is an accurate one.
The 24-year-old righty is 1-1 through his first four starts of 2017 with a 1.73 ERA, 0.0 BB/9 and 10.4 SO/9 in 26 innings. He’s scheduled to make his first start against the Nationals on Sunday at 1:35 PM ET.