Ben Walker of the Associated Press shares this exclusive story behind Major League Baseball’s dismissal of umpire Brian Runge:
MLB announced on June 14 that Brian Runge was no longer on the staff and that a Triple-A umpire had been promoted, but didn’t give a reason. Only once since 2000 had such a change been made in midseason, and that was because of an injury.
The two people said Runge failed at least one drug test, then reached an agreement so he could remain on the umpire roster. When he failed to comply with those terms, he was released.
The Associated Press was unable to determine what drug was showing up on those tests and both MLB and the World Umpires Association have declined comment.
Runge, a 43-year-old native of San Diego, California, began umpiring in the big leagues in 1999. He took a mysterious hiatus from the job between July and September 2009 and hadn’t umpired a game this year.
Runge was behind the plate for Philip Humber’s perfect game on April 21, 2012 at Seattle’s Safeco Field and he was on the umpiring crew for the 2012 All-Star Game last July at Kansas City’s Kauffman Stadium.
Scott Kazmir won’t begin the regular season in the Dodgers’ starting rotation. Manager Dave Roberts said after Kazmir’s Cactus League outing on Sunday that it “doesn’t make sense” for the ailing Kazmir to break camp in the rotation, Andy McCullough of the Los Angeles Times reports. The lefty will instead rehab some more and join the rotation at a later time.
Kazmir has been battling a hip issue which has caused his mechanics to suffer. He was clocked in the low 80’s 10 days ago and wasn’t much better on Sunday afternoon.
Last season with the Dodgers, Kazmir posted a 4.56 ERA with a 134/52 K/BB ratio in 136 1/3 innings, his worst numbers since returning to the majors in 2013.
Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that Robert Gsellman has won the No. 4 spot in the Mets’ starting rotation. He adds that the Mets are likely to play things cautiously with lefty Steven Matz. The fifth and final rotation spot will go to either Zack Wheeler or Seth Lugo.
Gsellman, 23, has had a great spring. The right-hander has allowed three earned runs on 15 hits and four walks with nine strikeouts in 17 1/3 innings. That is on the heels of seven solid starts at the end of the 2016 season during which he yielded 12 earned runs on 40 hits and 12 walks with 40 strikeouts in 41 innings.
Matz, 25, is dealing with irritation in his left elbow. He had surgery in October to remove a bone spur and was a Tommy John patient several years ago. It sounds like the Mets are leaning towards having him start the season on the disabled list.
Wheeler, 26, isn’t having a great spring. He’s surrendered seven runs in 7 1/3 innings. Lugo has given up three earned runs in seven spring innings and also looked solid in the World Baseball Classic although he took the loss in the final against the United States.