Oil Can Boyd admits that he was on cocaine in two-thirds of his games

80 Comments

Former Red Sox pitcher Oil Can Boyd has a tell-all book coming out and yesterday he told all — he really told all — to WBZ radio’s Jon Miller in an interview. Specifically: he said that he was on cocaine two-thirds of the time he was on the mound during his career:

“Oh yeah, at every ballpark. There wasn’t one ballpark that I probably didn’t stay up all night, until four or five in the morning, and the same thing is still in your system … Some of the best games I’ve ever, ever pitched in the major leagues I stayed up all night; I’d say two-thirds of them. If I had went to bed, I would have won 150 ballgames in the time span that I played. I feel like my career was cut short for a lot of reasons, but I wasn’t doing anything that hundreds of ballplayers weren’t doing at the time; because that’s how I learned it.”

Boyd isn’t exactly peddling a redemption story here. While, yes, he admits that he could have doubled his win total if he wasn’t on blow all the time, he says that he has no regrets about anything he said or did. It just happened and that’s life, basically.  Teammates like Dwight Evans and Bill Buckner reached out to him, but he never went to rehab because he felt he needed to stay with the team. Baseball, he said, never gave him a single drug test.

Oh, and he thinks that he had his career cut short and was blackballed from baseball because he’s black and was outspoken:

“The reason I caught the deep end to it is because I’m black. The bottom line is the game carries a lot of bigotry, and that was an easy way for them to do it. If I wasn’t outspoken and a so-called ‘proud black man,’ maybe I would have gotten the empathy and sympathy like other ballplayers got that I didn’t get; like Darryl Strawberry, Dwight Gooden, Steve Howe. I can name 50 people that got third and fourth chances all because they weren’t outspoken black individuals.’’

Hard to judge that part of it. While he was still effective enough a pitcher in the final couple of years of his major league career, it’s quite possible given how much of an open secret he implies that his drug use was that the league viewed him as a huge risk.

Indeed, while he name-checks Strawberry and Gooden, there are two facts beyond their relative lack of “outspokenness” that makes them different cases than Boyd: (1) they at least attempted rehab on multiple occasions; and (2) to put it bluntly, they were way better players who were worth the greater risk.  Right or wrong, it’s totally understandable for a team to sign a drug addict who could win an MVP or Cy Young award if clean — especially if they have at least tried rehab — than it is to take a chance on an unrepentant mid-rotation guy like Boyd.

Whatever the case, Boyd was always interesting as a player. And it sounds like he has written a really interesting autobiography. As a rule,  the “this is what happened” books by the less-famous are always way better than the “this is why I was great” books by the superstars.  This sounds like no exception.

Video: Jake Arrieta hits a 465-foot home run off of Zack Greinke

Jamie Squire/Getty Images
5 Comments

Jake Arrieta‘s bat is in midseason form already. The Cubs’ ace swatted a solo home run to center field off of Zack Greinke in Thursday afternoon’s Grapefruit League exhibition game, his first homer of the spring.

The blast went 465 feet, according to MLB.com’s Daren Willman.

Arrieta has hit two home runs in each of the past two seasons. Madison Bumgarner (eight) and Noah Syndergaard (four) are the only other pitchers to match or exceed his output in that department.

Greinke, meanwhile, is hoping to bounce back after a miserable 2016 season. He finished with an uncharacteristic 4.37 ERA in 26 starts in his first year with the Diamondbacks.

Luis Valbuena to miss four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring

Kent Horner/Getty Images
1 Comment

Angels first baseman Luis Valbuena will miss the next four to six weeks with a strained right hamstring, Pedro Moura of the Los Angeles Times reports.

Valbuena, 31, signed a two-year, $15 million contract with the Angels in January and was on track to get the lion’s share of the playing time at first base. While he’s out, however, C.J. Cron will handle first base on a regular basis. When Valbeuna returns, the two will likely form a platoon.

Last year with the Astros, Valbuena hit a solid .260/.357/.459 with 13 home runs and 40 RBI in 342 plate appearances.