On a slow news day, I hit “refresh” on my gmail inbox every ten seconds, waiting for the near-daily MLB drug suspension press release to come in. And today we have a troika:
Free agent Minor League right-handed pitcher Frank Diaz has been suspended for 50 games without pay after testing positive for metabolites of Stanozolol. The suspension of Diaz will be effective immediately upon his signing with another Major League organization.
Cincinnati Reds Minor League third baseman Ernest Vasquez and right-handed pitcher James Walczak have each been suspended for 50 games without pay after testing positive for an Amphetamine. The suspensions of Vasquez and Walczak, who are currently on the roster of the Single-A Dayton Dragons of the Midwest League, will be effective at the start of next season.
Frank Diaz — assuming it’s the same Frank Diaz — has been in the Mexican League since 2009, so I’m not sure when he’s been testing. But he was once an Expos minor leaguer, and that’s retro-cool!
I had trouble tracking down Ernest Vazquez. Baseball-Reference.com has a Niko Vasquez with an a/k/a of Ernest in the Reds organization. Let’s assume that’s him, even though he didn’t play for Dayton this season. If not, apologies to Niko.
James Walczak — listed as Jamie — is a 15th rounder whose pitching lines suggest that the Painesville, Ohio product may not see much beyond the bright lights of Dayton, so I suppose his using was understandable.
Anyway, who’s calculating their WAR to determine how many wins to deduct from the Dayton Dragons, Rojos del Aguila de Veracruz and whatever the hell team Vazquez played for this year?
Mets right-hander Matt Harvey is heading to the bullpen, according to comments made by club manager Mickey Callaway on Saturday. As predicted, Harvey doesn’t appear to be taking the news particularly well, going so far as to tell Callaway that the decision has him “at a 10 with being pissed off” and that he’s motivated to prove himself as a starter.
It’s been rough going for Harvey this spring. After missing significant time to a shoulder injury last season, the 29-year-old righty returned to the mound with a lot left to prove. He pitched to an 0-2 record in four starts, issuing 14 runs, four home runs and 17 strikeouts in 21 innings. It’s been a while since the Mets have seen anything better out of their starter — he hasn’t turned in a sub-4.00 ERA since 2015 and hasn’t pitched well enough to earn an All-Star berth since 2013 — and now it appears they’re at the end of their rope.
At this point, the Mets insist that the shift is a temporary one. While Callaway has helped successfully convert several starters to the bullpen, including Trevor Bauer and Carlos Carrasco, that’s not the plan for this veteran right-hander. Instead, both the team and Harvey seem to view the change as a way to clear up any mental blocks Harvey may be encountering on the mound. “We know he’s healthy,” assistant GM John Ricco told reporters. “He’s feeling good. Then you get to, is this a little bit of a mental thing, a confidence thing? One of the things we talk about is getting him into the ‘pen, where he can have success in short spurts, get that confidence back and really let it go and get back to being a guy who can dominate the way he’s shown in the past.”
Harvey will be eligible to pitch out of the bullpen on Tuesday, when the Mets are scheduled to kick off their next road series against the Cardinals. As for his replacement, left-hander Jason Vargas will resume his role in the rotation when he comes off the disabled list next Saturday.