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.
Pirates minor leaguers Gift Ngoepe and Dovydas Neverauskas (pictured) were arrested on Sunday morning in Toledo, Ohio after a bar brawl, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports, citing documents provided by the Toledo Municipal Court.
Ngoepe was charged with one count of simple assault and two counts of resisting arrest. Neverauskas was charged with two outs of resisting arrest and one count of misconduct. Tigers minor leaguer Warwick Saupold was involved as well and was arrested for simple assault.
Saupold allegedly punched Andrey Goncharuk (not a player for either teams’ affiliates) in the face outside of the Bronze Boar bar, which is across from the Toledo Mud Hens’ ballpark. Ngoepe allegedly wrapped his arms around the police officer who was attempting to arrest Saupold. Ngoepe allegedly twisted free from the officer and walked away. Neverauskas allegedly interfered with an officer and yelled, “What are you going to do, shoot me?” after being ordered to stand on the sidewalk.
Ngoepe, 26, is in his second season with Triple-A Indianapolis. The shortstop has put up a meager .644 OPS in 373 plate appearances.
Neverauskas, 23, was promoted to Indianapolis in mid-June. In 25 relief appearances, he posted a 3.60 ERA with a 24/11 K/BB ratio in 30 innings. The right-hander, who appeared in the 2016 Futures Game last month, is rated as the Pirates’ 25th-best prospect according to MLB Pipeline.
Saupold, 26, has appeared briefly in the majors for the Tigers this season, yielding eight runs on 17 hits and three walks with 10 strikeouts in 9 2/3 innings. He made five appearances from May 14 to 31 and one more on August 12 before returning to Triple-A Toledo.
Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball reports that Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig has been claimed on waivers by an as-yet unknown team. The Dodgers can now attempt to work out a trade with the claiming team, or simply give that team Puig. In that case, the claiming team would assume the responsibility for the remainder of Puig’s seven-year, $42 million contract, which has two years and $14 million left. The Dodgers can also pull him back from waivers if they can’t work out a deal, but that would mean Puig would be ineligible to be traded for the rest of the season.
August 31 is the deadline for teams to acquire players on waivers and still have them become eligible for the postseason roster.
Puig’s relationship with the Dodgers has hit the skids as of late. He’s had a letdown of a season both in terms of injuries and production. In 303 plate appearances, he has a .260/.320/.386 triple-slash line with seven home runs and 34 RBI.
The Dodgers demoted him to Triple-A Oklahoma City in early August. Shortly after arriving, Puig celebrated a win with his teammates that included some profane language and was broadcast on Snapchat. The Dodgers were not very happy about that. Since then, the Dodgers were reportedly “trying to give away Puig” but didn’t find a taker.