We talked yesterday about how the mere fact of positive drug tests does not support the claim that baseball’s drug testing program is faulty. In fact, positive tests and punished players is actually evidence that it is working. To argue that it isn’t working, you have to point out the flaws in the program itself.
Former BALCO mastermind-turned supplement and training king Victor Conte was on NBC SportsTalk last night. And he did just that. He says that there is a big loophole in baseball’s drug testing program: the offseason. During that time, baseball tests only 5% of all players despite the fact that they have the right to test as many as 30% of players:
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Baseball has dismissed Conte’s claim, but not with specifics. Rather, they just call him a huckster and a fraud. And maybe he is. But if Conte is right and only a fraction of eligible players are being tested between October and February, baseball should explain why that is.
Less compelling: Conte’s assertion that he knows that many players are using.
Yankees first baseman Greg Bird gave his team tons of confidence to hand him the everyday job at first base to start the 2017 regular season, batting .451/.556/1.098 with eight home runs in 51 spring at-bats. But he’s followed that up by hitting .107/.254/.214 through the first month of the regular season.
GM Brian Cashman doesn’t have any intent to demote Bird back to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, MLB.com’s Bryan Hoch reports. Cashman said, “It’s not even an option for me in my mind right now, at all.”
Bird didn’t start Sunday’s game against the Orioles, a 7-4 loss in 11 innings. Lefty Wade Miley started for the Orioles, prompting manager Joe Girardi to put Chris Carter into the lineup at first base. If Bird isn’t able to figure things out, Carter might have an increased role on the team.
Rays starter Chris Archer threw his first pitch to Blue Jays outfielder Jose Bautista behind the slugger’s back with one out in the first inning of Sunday afternoon’s game in Toronto. Bautista and Archer then had a staredown. Home plate umpire Jim Wolf issued warnings to both teams. Bautista ultimately flied out to right field and he appeared to have a quick word with Archer on his way back to the dugout.
Archer could have been exacting revenge — euphemistically known as “protecting his teammate” — because Jays reliever Joe Biagini hit Rays outfielder Steven Souza in the seventh inning of Saturday’s game. Souza was forced to leave the game and underwent an X-ray, which came back negative. He was held out of Sunday’s lineup. Biagini’s pitch did not appear to be intentional.
The Jays won Sunday’s contest 3-1 with no further incident. The two clubs meet again in Tampa for a three-game series starting on May 5, so we’ll see if Sunday was the last of the bad blood between them.