The two Biogenesis suspensions with the most on-field impact are easily the Rangers’ Nelson Cruz and the Tigers’ Jhonny Peralta. One leads his team in homers the other is his team’s starting shortstop. Both, assuming their suspensions start today, will be eligible to return for the playoffs if their teams make it there (Peralta could actually play the Tigers last three regular season games). The question is: will their teams allow them to return?
It’d be a less interesting question if Melky Cabrera didn’t happen last year. He was perhaps the Giants’ best hitter at the time of his suspension. Many believed — including some folks who happen to write for this august blog — that the Giants were sunk without him. Of course, all the Giants did was go out and win the friggin’ World Series with Melky watching from home.
The Rangers and Tigers are not so dumb that they’d likely see that as a cause/effect thing. In the aggregate you’re better off with good players on your team than without them on your team, so it’s not at all inconceivable that each of these miscreants is back in the dugout come October. But the factors which will go into the ultimate decision are likely numerous and varied and not all of them are based in terms of pure baseball analysis.
Whoever the Rangers put in right field — possibly Leonys Martin, who has been playing right while Cruz DH’s due to an injury — is likely to be a defensive improvement. The recently acquired Jose Iglesias is certain to be a defensive improvement over Peralta. The Tigers already have a lot of firepower in their lineup. While Cruz has been Texas’ biggest home run threat, the team has not been fantastic on offense overall. There are obviously team chemistry concerns at play, as many players on the roster are likely to either resent that their teammates cheated, resent that they didn’t appeal or both.
It’s complicated, in other words. And it’s doubtful that either the Rangers or Tigers will make up their minds until they’ve had several weeks to reassess their teams in light of the loss of their players.
White Sox ace Chris Sale was scratched from Saturday night’s start against the Tigers due to a confrontation he had with White Sox coaches and front office staff over the 1976 retro uniforms the club was to wear. Sale used a knife to cut up his uniform as well as the uniforms of some other players, protesting the club’s decision to wear them. The White Sox suspended Sale five games “for violating team rules, for insubordination, and for destroying team equipment.”
Sale spoke about the incident for the first time, as MLB.com’s Scott Merkin reports. The lefty apologized to fans who came to see him pitch and said he regrets “not being there for my guys,” referring to the bullpen, which had to cover for Sale on Saturday. Matt Albers got the spot start and went two innings.
Sale felt the uniform would have impacted his performance, saying, “[The ’76 uniforms] are uncomfortable and unorthodox. I didn’t want to go out there and not be at the top of my game in every aspect that I need to be in. Not only that, but I didn’t want anything to alter my mechanics. … There’s a lot of different things that went into it. Looking bad had absolutely zero to do with it. Nothing.”
Sale was firm that he doesn’t regret standing up for he believes in. “Absolutely not,” he said. He continued, “Do I regret saying business should not be first before winning? Absolutely not.”
With his five-game suspension to end after Wednesday’s game, Sale is on track to start Thursday against the Cubs at Wrigley Field.
At the end of April, Marlins second baseman Dee Gordon was handed an 80-game suspension by Major League Baseball after testing positive for exogenous testosterone and Clostebol, performance-enhancing drugs. Gordon says he took those substances unknowingly.
Gordon will return to the Marlins on Thursday, MLB.com’s Joe Frisaro reports. The club was 10-11 prior to Gordon’s suspension. Since then, the club has gone 43-35 and is now tied with the Mets for second place in the NL East, five games behind the Nationals. Impressively, the Marlins have collectively hit .272/.330/.408 in Gordon’s absence, which compares favorably to the league average .252/.320/.410 triple-slash line.
Gordon, who made the NL All-Star team in 2014 and ’15, was hitting .266/.289/.340 with three doubles, two triples, five RBI, 13 runs scored, and six stolen bases in 97 plate appearances. Derek Dietrich has handled second base in the meantime and has done an admirable job, batting .275/.366/.398 with 22 extra-base hits, 30 RBI, and 26 runs scored in 314 PA. Nevertheless, Gordon is likely to return to full-time duty at second base.