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Mark McGwire’s advice to young players about PEDs: “Yeah, don’t do it”

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New Dodgers hitting coach Mark McGwire gave an interview to Fox Sports Radio on the art of hitting, his new gig with the Dodgers and, or course, his history with PEDs.

McGwire was asked about what he would tell today’s players who ask him about PEDs:

“Yeah, don’t do it. Use your head. It’s a mistake that I have to live with for the rest of my life. I have to deal with never, ever getting into the Hall-of-Fame. I totally understand and totally respect their opinion and I will never, ever push it. That is the way it’s going to be and I can live with that. One of the hardest things I had to do this year was sit down with my nine and ten year old boys and tell them what dad did. That was a really hard thing to do but I did it. They understood as much as a nine or ten year old could. It’s just something, if any ball player ever came up to me, run away from it. It’s not good. Run away from it.”

That’s the no-brainer advice now that there is a testing and penalty program in place that — if you believe the groundswell about the penalties not being big enough — will only get tougher and could drum you right out of the game quickly.

I’d be curious, however, as his boys get older, if McGwire will explain the cost-benefit analysis that existed pre-2004. When there was no testing and, if anything, defacto encouragement from fans, the league, the advertisers and even the media for players to juice up.

Because say what you want about the ethics of what McGwire did, and say what you want about how they have ruined his legacy as a baseball player, but the fact remains that McGwire sat down in a much larger, more expensive house to tell his boys about what he did than he would have been able to if he had been forced out of the game due to injury and ineffectiveness in the early-to-mid 90s, as it appeared he might have been had he not suddenly become a much stronger, healthier and bigger player after that.

To be clear, this is not an endorsement of PED use. It’s just a statement of fact based on the incentive structure in place prior to 2004. And its an incentive structure that can’t be ignored when we cast judgment on those players who used PEDs in that time frame.

Evan Gattis undergoes surgery for hernia; recovery is 4-6 weeks

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Evan Drellich of the Houston Chronicle shares the bad news

One of the Astros’ big bats won’t be taking hacks when the Astros hold their first full workout on Feb. 23.

Astros designated hitter Evan Gattis recently underwent surgery to repair a hernia, the Chronicle has learned, taking away most of his spring training at a minimum. The recovery is four to six weeks but fortunately for Gattis and the Astros, the injury is not considered severe.

Gattis was working hard on his overall conditioning this winter, even telling MLB.com’s Brian McTaggart in late January that he had already dropped 18 pounds. It sounds like the big slugger might have gone a bit overboard with those workouts, and now he is in real danger of missing the first couple weeks of the 2016 regular season.

Gattis batted .246/.285/.463 with 27 home runs and 88 RBI in 153 games last season for the Astros. The 29-year-old is arbitration-eligible for the first time in his career and has a hearing with the Astros scheduled for February 16 to determine his salary for 2016. He requested $3.8 million and was offered $3 million when figures were exchanged a little over three weeks ago.

Suddenly the Astros’ front office might have a new talking point for those arbitrators.

Seung-Hwan Oh finally receives his work visa, will be on time for Cardinals camp

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At last check, new Cardinals reliever Seung-Hwan Oh was still awaiting a work visa from the United States Embassy in South Korea and there was some worry that he might not be able to arrive on time to spring training in Jupiter, Florida.

But that is now officially a non-story.

Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Oh has recieved his work visa and is expected to report to Cardinals camp next week along with the rest of the club’s pitchers and catchers. Oh might even show up a bit earlier than the Cardinals originally asked him to, per Goold.

Oh saved 357 games in 11 seasons between Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball and the Korea Baseball Organization before inking a one-year contract with St. Louis this winter. He also registered a stellar 1.81 ERA and 772 strikeouts across 646 total innings in Asia, earning the nickname “The Final Boss.”

Oh is expected to work in a setup role this year for Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal.

John Lamb had back surgery in December, will likely get off to late start in 2016

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John Lamb was part of the Reds’ return package in last July’s Johnny Cueto trade and he had a strong showing at the Triple-A level in 2015. But the young left-hander posted a 5.80 ERA in a 10-start cup of coffee with Cincinnati late last season — his first 10 appearances as a major leaguer — and now comes word from MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon that Lamb will probably have to get off to a late start in 2016.

Lamb underwent surgery in December to repair a herniated disc in his back — a surgery that went unreported by the Reds until Tuesday afternoon. Reds manager Bryan Price acknowledged on MLB Network that Lamb is behind the team’s other starting pitchers and will likely open the coming season on the disabled list. The hope is that he might be ready by mid-April.

It’s a small but frustrating blow for a rebuilding Reds team that will be looking to establish some foundational pieces in 2016. Once he is recovered, Lamb will be expected to fill the Reds’ fifth rotation spot behind Raisel Iglesias, Anthony DeSclafani, Brandon Finnegan, and Michael Lorenzen.

This is going to be an ugly year for Cincinnati baseball fans.

Yu Darvish will report to spring training on time, hopes to begin mound work in March

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Rangers ace Yu Darvish missed the entire 2015 season after undergoing Tommy John reconstructive elbow surgery last March 17. Most starting pitchers take 13-15 months to fully recover from that procedure, and the Rangers aren’t counting on Darvish until sometime this May.

His rehab so far has gone on without issue.

Darvish offered some very positive updates Tuesday to Jeff Wilson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram …

Darvish, 29, boasts a 3.27 ERA and 1.196 WHIP in 83 career major league starts. He can also claim a whopping 680 strikeouts in 545 1/3 career major league innings.

Texas has him under contract for $10 million in 2016 and $11 million in 2017.