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 Royals announced on Thursday evening that reliever Luke Hochevar has been placed on the 15-day disabled list (retroactive to July 25) as he’s showing signs of thoracic outlet syndrome, MLB.com’s Jeffrey Flanagan reports. Reliever Brooks Pounders has been recalled from Triple-A Omaha.
Thoracic outlet syndrome, simply put, is the compression of blood vessels and nerves between the neck and the shoulder. As we’ve seen lately, the fix for this often involves surgery to remove the pitcher’s upper rib.
Hochevar, 32, has compiled a 3.86 ERA with a 40/9 K/BB ratio in 37 1/3 innings. The right-hander, who can become a free agent after the season if either he or the Royals decline his 2017 option, was a potential trade candidate recently mentioned by Jon Heyman of Today’s Knuckleball.
Usually, a pitcher blowing two saves isn’t noteworthy, even if it’s on back-to-back days. But Mets closer Jeurys Familia had successfully saved 52 consecutive games before the Cardinals put an end to that on Wednesday night.
The Mets opened up a four-game home series against the Rockies on Thursday afternoon. Because Familia had appeared in consecutive games, manager Terry Collins told the media, including MLB.com’s Anthony DiComo, after last night’s game that the right-hander would get a day off and Addison Reed would serve as the fill-in closer.
The Mets rode a 1-0 lead through eight innings and wouldn’t you know it, Familia took the hill to start the ninth inning. Things quickly got out of hand. Trevor Story led the inning off with a single, then stole second base. David Dahl drew a walk, and Daniel Descalso followed up by loading the bases with a bunt single thanks in large part to a mental error by catcher Rene Rivera.
Familia then got Cristhian Adames on what could’ve been a game-ending 1-6-3 double play. But first baseman James Loney booted the ball, allowing a run to score and everyone else to advance safely. Even if Loney got the ball, though, Familia wasn’t anywhere close to first base to cover on a double play attempt. Charlie Blackmon stepped to the plate and Familia uncorked a wild pitch on a 1-1 fastball, allowing the go-ahead run to score.
Collins ordered Familia to load the bases by intentionally walking Blackmon, then brought in Hansel Robles, who escaped the inning without any further damage by striking out D.J. LeMahieu and getting Nolan Arenado to pop up. The Mets were unable to get any offense going against Rockies closer Carlos Estevez, who set the side down in 1-2-3 fashion to lock up the 2-1 victory.
After Thursday’s outing, Familia is now 36-for-38 in save situations on the season with a 3.14 ERA and a 49/22 K/BB ratio in 48 2/3 innings.