Major League Baseball just announced that Washington Nationals minor leaguer Zechry Zinicola has received a 50-game suspension. Not PEDs, though. His suspension comes after a second violation of “a drug of abuse” pursuant to the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. Two things:
1. I vaguely remember Zinicola pitching for the Columbus Clippers a few years ago during the two-year period the Clippers were a Nationals affiliate. Note: everyone in Columbus has forgotten that the Clippers were a Nationals affiliate. It’s like it never happened. Sometimes I think I dreamed it;
2. I really wish they’d tell us what the “drugs of abuse” in question are for these things. Because depending on what the drug is, these suspensions could either be tragic or actually somewhat interesting. I mean, it’s never good to be on drugs, but it would tell us something very different about Zinicola if he was taking cocaine, for example, or if he was found in an opium den with some 19th century Chinese railroad workers down by the docks or something.
Anyway, Zinicola has an ERA of 4.05 in 293 minor league innings. So while this suspension is bad for him, it’s not exactly going to impact the Nats’ plans, I wouldn’t guess.
The Cincinnati Reds have fired manager Bryan Price. He’ll be replaced on an interim basis by bench coach Jim Riggleman. The team also fired pitching coach Mack Jenkins. The club also added Louisville manager Pat Kelly to the staff as the new bench coach and Double-A pitching coach Danny Darwin as the new big league pitching coach.
It was only a matter of time for Price, whose Reds have begun the season 3-15. This was Price’s fifth season at the helm and the Reds never won more than 76 games in any of his previous seasons, doing so in his first year, in 2014. They won 68 games in both 2016 and 2017 and 64 games in 2015. While that’s far more attributable to the Reds talent level than anything Price ever did or did not do, at some point the manager will take the fall for a team that makes no progress.
Price’s tenure will likely be considered largely forgettable in the view of history, but he did have a pretty memorable moment as Reds manager in April of 2015, when he went on a profanity-laced tirade at the media because they reported the availability or lack thereof of certain players for an upcoming game. Which is part of the media’s job, even if Price didn’t fully grok that at the time. The tirade itself was pretty epic, though, with then Cincinnati Enquirer reporter C. Trent Rosecrans reporting that “there were 77 uses of the “F” word or a variant and 11 uses of a vulgar term for feces (two bovine, one equine).”
Taking over will be Jim Riggleman, who last managed in the big leagues with the Washington Nationals, resigning in June of 2011 because he was unhappy that he did not get a contract extension. It was a weird episode, the sort of which a lot of guys couldn’t have come back from, perhaps being considered quitters. Riggleman took a job managing the Reds’ Double-A team, however, then moved on to Triple-A and then the Reds’ big league coaching staff. There’s something to be said for persistence. And for being a big league lifer.
Anyway, Price’s exit is not likely to change the Reds’ course too much in 2018. But, as it is so often said in baseball, sometimes you gotta make a change all the same.