Today Alex Rodriguez and others are going to get nailed for their involvement in the Biogenesis stuff, but that’s only one of three major PED-related moments in baseball history to celebrate this week:
On August 7, 2002, Major leaguers agreed to be checked randomly for illegal steroids for the first time. The testing would begin the following year and there would be no discipline associated with it unless and until the trial tests showed that a certain percentage of players were using (note: they did). There wasn’t a ton of news about this at the time as the agreement came at the same time the union and the league averted a work stoppage borne mostly of disagreements over financial issues, contraction and the like. But given that Ken Caminiti and Jose Canseco had begun giving interviews about rampant PED-use in baseball earlier in the season, it was a PR point the league and the players agreed needed to be made.
Also on August 7 — this time in 2007 — Barry Bonds surpassed Hank Aaron as the all-time home run leader when he connected on a 3-2 pitch for homer number 756 off Mike Bacsik of the Nationals. We all like to think of that as some dark, dark event in baseball history, as the already-compromised Barry Bonds was seen as sullying the home run record which rightfully belonged to Aaron. But when we look at it that we forget that Bonds received a 10-minute ovation from his hometown fans and, more significantly, a video message was played on the scoreboard in which Hammerin’ Hank Aaron himself congratulated Bonds for breaking the record.
It’s kinda nice that the first week in August has a lot PED history associated with it. We can make a big celebration and holiday out of it.
The Diamondbacks announced on Monday that the club signed catcher Jeff Mathis to a two-year, $4 million contract.
Mathis, 33, isn’t much with the stick as he owns a career .197/.254/.308 triple-slash line over parts of 12 seasons in the majors. The veteran, though, is well-regarded for his ability to play defense, call games, handle a pitching staff, and get along with his teammates in the clubhouse. As Craig mentioned last year, Mathis is often talked about as a future manager.
The D-Backs non-tendered Welington Castillo on Friday, so Chris Herrmann and Mathis are the team’s two catchers as presently constructed.
ESPN’s Buster Olney reports that free agent shortstop Jimmy Rollins wants to continue playing in 2017.
Rollins, 38, signed a minor league deal with the White Sox for the 2016 season but hit a disappointing .221/.295/.329 over 166 plate appearances. The club released Rollins in the middle of June and he did not sign with a new team. He did join TBS as part of their playoff coverage.
Rollins is almost certainly looking at another minor league contract and will have to earn his way onto a major league roster by performing well in spring training.