The minute the Angels interest in Josh Hamilton was reported, people on Twitter and in the comments started in with stuff about how it’s bad for a drug addict/alcoholic to play in Los Angeles. This kind of thing:
This is a nonsense concern for a few reasons. Among them:
1. The Angels play in Anaheim, not some crash pad in the inner city or some burnout rock star’s home in Laurel Canyon. Disneyland is there for cryin’ out loud, and Hamilton will almost certainly live in some gated beach compound. He’s not exactly being dropped into a den of sin, here.
2. He played in Dallas for the past few years and Dallas, you may be shocked to hear, is a huge city with a lot of drugs and booze and things too;
3. His substance abuse trouble started back home in North Carolina and increased while he played in the Sally League and places like it. It’s not like he needed the bright lights and big city to tempt him.
4. As any addict can tell you — and as common sense instructs — you can get drugs or booze anyplace. Absolutely anyplace, from the biggest city to the smallest town in America. It’s not hard. The battle is not distancing yourself from them in a geographic sense. It’s about keeping them out of your personal space, both physically and mentally. Hamilton will battle addiction in L.A. like he did in Dallas and Cincinnati and Florida before that. He could be traded to Mars and he’ll have to fight it.
So yes, like Zack Greinke’s anxiety disorder we discussed this morning, Josh Hamilton in L.A. is an easy punchline or, at best, low-hanging analytical fruit. But it’s also pretty frickin’ beside the point, so just let it go, OK?
Brewers’ right-hander Phil Bickford received a 50-game suspension after testing positive for a drug of abuse, per the Los Angeles Times’ Bill Shaikin. This is the second time Bickford has been suspended for recreational drug use, as he was previously penalized in 2015 after testing positive for marijuana prior to the amateur draft.
Bickford was selected by the Giants in the first round of the 2015 draft and was later dealt to the Brewers for lefty reliever Will Smith at the 2016 trade deadline. He finished his 2016 campaign in High-A Brevard County, pitching to a 3.67 ERA, 10.0 K/9 rate and 5.0 BB/9 over 27 innings.
Two other suspensions were handed down on Friday, one to Toronto minor league right-hander Pedro Loficial for a positive test for metabolites of Stanozolol and one to Miami minor league outfielder Casey Soltis for a second positive test for drugs of abuse. Loficial will serve a 72-game suspension, while Soltis will serve 50 games. All three suspensions are due to start at the beginning of the 2017 season for each respective minor league team.
Brewers’ GM David Stearns issued a statement after the Commissioner’s Office announced Bickford’s suspension (via Vince Lara-Cinisomo of Baseball America):
We are very disappointed to learn of Phil’s suspension, but we fully support the Minor League Baseball Drug Prevention and Testing Program and its enforcement by the Commissioner’s Office. Phil understands he made a mistake, and we fully anticipate that he will learn from this experience.
Confirming a report from Tuesday, the Diamondbacks officially signed right-hander Fernando Rodney to a one-year, $2.75 million contract on Friday. The 39-year-old stands to receive up to $4 million in incentives, per Jack MacGruder of FanRag Sports, with $250,000 kicking in when the veteran reaches 40, 50 and 60 appearances and $500,000 if he reaches 70.
Rodney came three games shy of the 70-appearance mark in 2016 during back-to-back stints with the Padres and Marlins. He put up a cumulative 3.44 ERA on the year, which effectively disguised the extreme split during his performances in San Diego and Miami. The Diamondbacks aren’t anywhere close to contending in 2017, but Rodney should stabilize the back end of their bullpen while providing Arizona GM Mike Hazen with a potential trade chip during next year’s deadline.
Hazen issued a statement following the signing:
With Fernando, we’re getting an established Major League closer and a veteran presence in the bullpen. It is helpful to have someone with his experience on the back end to slow the game down and get the final three outs.