Post, Daily News report on an A-Rod plot to “retire” to avoid Biogenesis discipline

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This feels like a game of telephone. Or a half-baked plot being floated. Whatever you want to call it, it seems off for a couple of reasons. The upshot:

  • The New York Daily News has a report that A-Rod is rushing to get back to rehab games so that, once he plays in game action, he can claim that he’s physically unable to perform, take an Albert Belle-style medical “retirement” (i.e. go on the DL for the rest of his career) and thereby, they say, avoid discipline in the Biogenesis thing; and
  • The New York Post, with a somewhat contradictory spin, says that rather than rush back to rehab games, A-Rod is telling the Yankees that he’s not ready to come back, but the endgame is still the same: go on the 60-day DL for the next few years, getting a defacto retirement, and thereby collect money and avoid Biogenesis discipline.

There is one major thing wrong with this: drug suspensions don’t work that way.

Whether A-Rod is playing or not, he cannot avoid Biogenesis discipline if it comes down by going on the DL. Yes, a player on the disabled list can technically “serve” his suspension in games he would have missed anyway — remember when Freddy Galvis did this? — but he’s still getting his pay docked. Thus the endgame described in both stories — A-Rod somehow evading Biogenesis discipline to “collect his fat salary,” as the Daily News headline puts it — makes zero sense. Whether he’s playing or disabled, he will lose 50 games pay for a 50 game suspension, 100 games pay for a 100 game suspension and his lifetime pay for a lifetime suspension. The disabled list gambit saves him nothing.

So what’s the point of this? Well, this is curious. From the Daily News:

The Yankees, who are currently paying Rodriguez’s $28 million 2013 salary, could conceivably then try to collect insurance on the remainder of the contract, as the Orioles did with Belle.

From the Post:

Should Rodriguez retire because of a medical problem, he would avoid a possible suspension by MLB in the Biogenesis mess. The Yankees would also be able to collect 80 percent of the $114 million from insurance.

Oh, so the Yankees would benefit* from this scenario, even if A-Rod wouldn’t? And what else? This is the same scenario that was floated over and over again back in January by Yankees front office officials, with multiple members of the media playing along, all while A-Rod and those close to him continued to talk up his eagerness to get his rehab going?

This sounds like more wishcasting from the Yankees front office. A day after A-Rod pisses all of them off with his tweets, we once again see the “maybe A-Rod will just go away and never play again so we can collect insurance money” story. In a scenario that does absolutely zero to benefit Alex Rodriguez but would solve the Yankees’ PR and financial problems. Amazing that.

*Worth noting that the people who like the whole “the Yankees can just collect the insurance money!” idea have clearly never dealt with insurance companies before.

Clay Buchholz apologized to the Phillies for getting injured

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MLB.com’s Todd Zolecki reports that starter Clay Buchholz is at Citizens Bank Park for Wednesday night’s game against the Marlins. The right-hander recently underwent surgery to repair a partial tear of his flexor pronator mass. The timetable for his recovery is three to five months, but most are expecting him to miss the rest of the season since the Phillies aren’t legitimate contenders.

According to Zolecki, Buchholz apologized to GM Matt Klentak “and others” — presumably other front office staff and/or his teammates — for getting injured. Buchholz hopes to return to pitch in September.

It’s saddening to me, and indicative of the general anti-labor culture in sports, that a player feels obligated to apologize for getting injured on the job. Injuries are nothing new for Buchholz, which might have factored into his decision to apologize. Red Sox fans got on his case quite a bit over the years for his propensity to land on the disabled list. But it wasn’t like Buchholz was taking unnecessary risks; he simply did his job, which entails doing a lot of unhealthy movement with his arm. Buchholz owes no one an apology.

Buchholz isn’t the only player to have apologized for getting injured. Outfielder Hideki Matsui apologized to the Yankees in 2006. Starter Masahiro Tanaka apologized in 2014. Twins reliever Glen Perkins apologized last year. Even Madison Bumgarner sort of apologized for suffering injuries riding a dirt bike on an off-day, saying “It’s definitely not the most responsible decision I’ve made.” Because god forbid an athlete has interests and hobbies outside of his vocation.

Players are brought up in a sports culture that allows exorbitantly wealthy owners to bilk the players — laborers — at every possible turn. They’re mostly underpaid and poorly taken care of in the minors. If and when they reach the major leagues, their salaries are intentionally depressed for six years and their service time is toyed with (just ask Kris Bryant). Buchholz endured that and then endured the criticism that comes with having been a hyped prospect who mostly failed to live up to expectations. He’s gone above and beyond what he needed to do to have a successful career as a professional baseball player, even if it wasn’t as much as fans or front office personnel would have liked.

Eric Thames leaves game with apparent injury

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Update (5:22 PM ET): Thames is dealing with left hamstring tightness. Manager Craig Counsell says it’s “not a big deal,” Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

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Brewers first baseman Eric Thames left Wednesday afternoon’s game against the Reds in the top of the eighth inning with an apparent injury. Thames took his position to start the inning, but was replaced by Jesus Aguilar. Thames had flied out weakly to center field to end the previous inning, so perhaps something happened while he ran that out.

The Brewers should provide an update shortly on the exact nature of Thames’ early exit. Needless to say, losing Thames to the disabled list would be a huge blow to the 11-11 Brewers, as he entered Wednesday leading all of baseball in runs (25), home runs (11), slugging percentage (.929), and OPS (1.411). Thames was 1-for-3 with a single, a pair of walks, and two runs scored before leaving.