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.
Long-time rotation mainstay Tom Koehler was optioned to Triple-A New Orleans on Monday and reliever Hunter Cervenka was recalled, the Marlins announced.
Koehler, 31, made 131 starts out of the Marlins’ rotation over the last five years, but his 12 this season have not been good, so the club hopes he can figure things out with a stint in the minors. He’s carrying a 7.92 ERA with a 44/29 K/BB ratio in 55 2/3 innings. Koehler battled bursitis in his right shoulder in May and June, which may partially explain his struggles.
Cervenka, 27, posted a 4.50 ERA with a 34/21 K/BB ratio in 34 innings of relief with New Orleans. He hasn’t pitched in the majors yet this season, but compiled a 3.53 ERA over 43 1/3 innings in the bigs last year in the Marlins’ bullpen.
At the trade deadline, relief pitching is the name of the game and one of the names clearly available is Pat Neshek. Today Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reports that the Nationals, Dodgers, and Red Sox are among the clubs who are closely scouting the Phillies reliever. Last week Ken Rosenthal reported that the Brewers and Rays were involved as well.
Neshek is an impending free agent, so he may come cheaper than Justin Wilson or some of the other bullpen arms available right now. The All-Star is 36 and is posting a fantastic season, featuring a 1.12 ERA and 45/5 K/BB ratio over 40.1 innings this season.