Jack Clark fired from his talk radio show over Albert Pujols-PED accusation

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Boy, that escalated quickly.

News broke yesterday that Jack Clark called out Albert Pujols for PEDs on his radio show. Then, later in the day, Albert Pujols indicated that he would sue Clark. Now Clark and his co-host have been fired. The Post-Dispatch has the statement from the company which employed Clark and his co-host and which, in turn, provided their services to the radio station on which they appeared:

Early Saturday, insideSTL announced it “has terminated its relationship with Jack Clark and Kevin Slaten. As independent contractors, we want to make it clear that the opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the opinions of insideSTL. Also as independent contractors, insideSTL did not have editorial control over the show’s content.’’

Lost in all of this is that Clark and his co-host also talked about Justin Verlander and Shawn Green, using Verlander’s alleged velocity changes over the course of single games and over the years and Green’s back acne as “evidence” that they used PEDs too. Except Clark was dead wrong about Verlander’s velocity — it is virtually unchanged in terms of the patterns in games; he has always increased velocity as the game wore on, contrary to what Clark said — and the back acne thing has been widely debunked by dermatologists as a PED-signifier.

I’d say Clark should have been fired for that speculation alone, but clearly Pujols’ reaction and the publicity that came about as a result yesterday was what cost them their jobs.

And in case you missed it, Pujols’ statement denying PED use was forceful and specific. Much different than what you typically hear from players accused of PED use”

“I’ve said time and time again that I would never take, or even consider taking, anything illegal,’’ Pujols said. “I’ve been tested hundreds of times throughout my career and never once have I tested positive. It is irresponsible and reckless for Jack Clark to have falsely accused me of using PEDs. My faith in Jesus Christ, and my respect for this game are too important to me. I would never be able to look my wife or kids in the eye if I had done what this man is accusing me of.

“I know people are tired of athletes saying they are innocent, asking for the public to believe in them, only to have their sins exposed later down the road. But I am not one of those athletes, and I will not stand to have my name and my family’s name, dragged through the mud. I am currently in the process of taking legal action against Jack Clark and his employers at WGNU (920 AM).

“I am going to send a message that you cannot act in a reckless manner, like they have, and get away with it. If I have to be the athlete to carry the torch and pave the way for other innocent players to see that you can do something about it, I am proud to be that person.

“I have five young children and I take being a role model very seriously. The last thing I want is for the fans, and especially the kids out there, to question my reputation and character.”

Twins’ top prospect Nick Burdi will undergo Tommy John surgery

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Twins’ right-hander Nick Burdi is set to undergo Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, the team announced on Friday. Burdi made 14 appearances for Double-A Chattanooga before succumbing to a torn ulnar collateral ligament and is not expected to make his major league debut until mid-2018 at the earliest. A UCL tear doesn’t always require Tommy John surgery — less severe cases can be treated with platelet-rich plasma injections, for example — but Twins’ chief baseball officer Derek Falvey told the press that surgery was unavoidable as Burdi had sustained a “full thickness tear” in his elbow.

Entering the 2016 season, Burdi was widely considered a top ten prospect in the Twins’ system. His exceptional velocity and potent fastball-slider combo made him a fearsome relief option as he came off of his first season in Double-A Chattanooga in 2015. During the 2016 season, however, the 24-year-old experienced a significant setback after a bone bruise cut his season short in late July. Prior to Friday’s diagnosis, he appeared to be staging an impressive comeback with the Chattanooga Lookouts this spring, decorating his efforts with a sparkling 0.53 ERA, 2.1 BB/9 and 10.6 SO/9 over 17 innings.

It’s a tough break for the Twins, whose farm system was ranked 21st in the league by Baseball America. “Obviously he’s proven when he’s healthy he’s an absolute premium prospect, and the Twins are treating him that way,” Burdi’s agent, Matt Sosnick, told Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press. “We just want to make sure everything we do ultimately leads to the goal of getting him back on the field as quickly as he can.”

Brock Holt has been shut down from game activity

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Things have gone from bad to worse for Red Sox’ outfielder Brock Holt, who was shut down “for the foreseeable future” on Friday after meeting with head trauma specialist Michael Collins. The Red Sox placed Holt on the 10-day disabled list in April after he began experiencing vertigo, the latest in a series of head injuries he’s sustained since last spring.

According to the Boston Herald’s Jason Mastrodonato, the outfielder was initially advised to attempt playing through his symptoms, but it quickly became apparent that the strategy wasn’t going to work. Now, the plan is to shut him down from any game activity in the hopes that he’ll be able to recover from all lingering symptoms before returning to the roster. Club manager John Farrell told reporters that the 28-year-old is still cleared to take batting practice and work on his defense, but won’t continue his rehab starts in Triple-A Pawtucket for the time being.

Holt had been making regular appearances for the Pawtucket Red Sox and was batting .209/.292/.372 with two home runs through 14 games this spring. This season marks his fifth run within the Red Sox’ organization. He experienced a bit of a slump at the plate in 2016 and slashed .255/.322/.383 after breaking out during his first All-Star year in 2015.

Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe suggests that the team’s concern for Holt extends past his setbacks at the plate. It’s still a long road to a full recovery, and while Farrell told reporters he believes the outfielder is on track to make a return sometime in 2017, he’ll need to make sure that Holt is both physically and mentally prepared to do so.