This is bigger than your normal PED suspension:
The Office of the Commissioner of Baseball announced today that outfielder Marlon Byrd has received a 50-game suspension after testing positive for Tamoxifen, a performance-enhancing substance, in violation of Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.
Byrd, a free agent, will be on the restricted list until August 20.
This is notable for more than the fact that Byrd is a bigger name than you usually see on the suspension list. Byrd has quite famously trained with former BALCO figure Victor Conte, who has claimed for years to have seen the light and to only work with legal and non-banned substances. It has led to much talk about Byrd being somewhat reckless in his choice of trainer and has caused many to speculate that Byrd was under closer scrutiny by the league due to his association with Conte.
Whether Byrd got the substance from Conte or whether it was an intentional thing or a situation of something being adulterated is not known. But it’s certainly going to lead to more than just this suspension. Someone — likely Conte — is gonna have some stuff to say pretty soon, I’d wager.
UPDATE: The drug Byrd tested positive for — Tamoxifen — is an estrogen blocker, not a PED itself. It’s on the banned list, however, because it’s used by people who take steroids to mitigate the side-effects.
Bob Nightengale reports that Byrd has issued a statement regarding his positive test, apologizing, but saying that the drug was used for “a reoccurrence of private surgery he had years ago.” This echoes the statements of others who have been caught using estrogen blockers, most of whom have said it was for medical issues.
The Mets have begun working outfielder Jay Bruce and second baseman Neil Walker at first base as potential insurance in the event Lucas Duda continues to experience back discomfort, Mike Puma of the New York Post reports. Duda has been sidelined recently due to back spasms and missed all but 47 games last season as a result of a stress fracture in his lower back.
Manager Terry Collins spoke about Bruce’s work at first base on Sunday, saying, “I liked everything I saw today. “It looks like he’s got the athleticism, he’s got the hands, he’s got the arm angle. He made some throws in our drills that you wouldn’t expect an outfielder to be able to make, but yet he does. If that’s where we have to go, I think we’ll be fine.”
Bruce has only three games’ worth of experience at first base at the major league level, but still has high expectations for himself. He said, “I am going to work at it. I want to give myself a chance and the team a chance. I am not going to go over there and be a butcher. It’s just not the way I go about my business on the baseball field and it wouldn’t be fair to the team if I wasn’t capable to do it, so I am going to work at it and we’ll see what happens.”
The Mets made Bruce available via trade over the offseason but didn’t get an offer that whet their appetite. As a result, Michael Conforto appears to be the odd man out in the Mets’ crowded outfield.
Indians second baseman Jason Kipnis has been diagnosed with a strained rotator cuff in his right shoulder, MLB.com’s Jordan Bastian reports. Kipnis has received a cortisone shot and will be shut down from throwing for the next four to five days.
There’s a lot of spring left, so it’s perfectly sensible for the Indians to play it safe with their star player. The club already had Kipnis on a shoulder strengthening program.
Kipnis, 29, helped the Indians to the playoffs after batting .275/.343/.469 with 23 home runs, 92 RBI, 91 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases in 688 plate appearances during the regular season last year. He then helped the Indians reach Game 7 of the World Series against the Cubs, where they were eventually stopped, as he provided a .741 OPS including four homers and eight RBI in 15 playoff games.