Dan Naulty talks about steroid use, sexual abuse, Yankee prayer meetings

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While I’d recommend skipping the intro, the body of Tom Verducci’s latest work for Sports Illustrated is an incredible tale, that of former Twins and Yankees pitcher Dan Naulty. Among the things Naulty discusses are how steroids took him from 180 pounds to 240 and added 10 mph to his fastball, how the sexual abuse of a male coach and a female teacher affected his development and how alcoholism nearly led to him committing suicide.

Less enthralling but more baseball-related, Naulty notes the prayer meetings members of the Yankees held during the 1998 championship season. From the article:

Naulty was assigned a locker between relievers Mariano Rivera and Jason Grimsley, two of many devout Christians on the team, a group that also included Andy Pettitte, Joe Girardi, Mike Stanton and Chad Curtis. They would invite Naulty to what they called “daily devotionals,” gatherings in a dingy storage room in the bowels of Yankee Stadium to read Scripture and pray together. After a month or so, Naulty decided to join in.

… Naulty was shocked at the participants in the Yankees’ daily devotionals: star players with huge contracts. “I was just floored that people who made that much money needed God,” he says. “Why on earth would I need God when I was with the Yankees and I’ve got hundreds of thousands of dollars and I’ve got whatever I want?”

… Years later, Pettitte, Stanton and Grimsley, like Naulty, were named in the Mitchell Report. “Shocked,” Naulty says. “It would obviously contradict everything we believe as Christians. That was certainly shocking.”

Go and read the whole thing when you have 15-20 minutes. It’s well worth it.

Report: Braves extend Kurt Suzuki

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Kurt Suzuki will wear a Braves’ uniform through the 2018 season after signing a one-year, $3.5 million extension with the club on Saturday, per The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal. Rosenthal adds that the two had been in talks for weeks and Suzuki made it clear that he wanted to remain in Atlanta for the foreseeable future. The team has yet to announce the extension.

Suzuki, 33, initially signed a one-year contract with the Braves back in January. The veteran backstop stepped into a backup role behind starting catcher Tyler Flowers, but still found a way to impress at the plate with a .271/.343/.525 batting line, career-best 18 home runs and an .868 OPS through 287 PA. According to FanGraphs, Suzuki’s 2.2 fWAR makes 2017 his most valuable season since his run with the 2009 Athletics.

It’s a prudent move for the Braves, who would have lost one of their most dynamic second-half hitters to the free agent market this offseason. Entering Saturday, Suzuki is second only to Freddie Freeman with 11 homers and 1.4 fWAR since the All-Star break. His stunning comeback also confirmed the team’s decision to look outside the organization for a backup catcher, rather than turning to fellow veteran Anthony Recker behind the plate.

“On a personal level, this season exceeded my expectations,” Suzuki told reporters on Wednesday. “It’s just one of those things I can’t explain. I put a lot of work in and really didn’t have a job until late January. I got an opportunity here and took advantage of it. It was definitely a good fit.”

Mikie Mahtook is likely done for the season

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Tigers’ outfielder Mikie Mahtook is unlikely to play again this season, club manager Brad Ausmus announced Saturday. Mahtook was diagnosed with a Grade 2 left groin strain following Friday’s series opener against the Twins, when he appeared to injure himself after chasing down Byron Buxton‘s two-RBI double in the fourth.

This is the second time Mahtook has sustained a groin injury over the past month. The 27-year-old exited Friday’s game with a .276/.330/.457 batting line, 12 home runs and a .787 OPS through 379 plate appearances with the team.

With the Tigers out of contention, there’s no reason to trot out Mahtook for the remaining eight games of the regular season. The club has yet to specify a timetable for his return, but there’s no reason to believe he won’t be in fine shape to compete for a starting role next spring.