Astros prospect Jonathan Singleton opens up about addiction

50 Comments

Kristie Rieken of the Associated Press has a really interesting read on Astros prospect Jonathan Singleton, who served a 50-game suspension at the start of last season after a second positive test for marijuana use. Singleton, who had a month-long stay at an in-patient rehab center, was brutally honest about the impact the drug had on him.

“At this point it’s pretty evident to me that I’m a drug addict,” he told The Associated Press over breakfast on a recent day near the Astros’ camp. “I don’t openly tell everyone that, but it’s pretty apparent to myself.”
“I know that I enjoy smoking weed, I enjoy being high and I can’t block that out of my mind that I enjoy that,” he said. “So I have to work against that.”

Singleton said he hasn’t smoked marijuana in more than one year, but it hasn’t been an easy road. In fact, he admitted that he turned to alcohol as a substitute last year amid his struggles at the Triple-A level and would wake up “hung over every single morning.” Talk about unintended consequences. Singleton is said to be in a better place mentally now and he could be a factor with the Astros in the early part of this season if all goes well.

By the way, Singleton was added to the Astros’ 40-man roster in October and can no longer be tested for marijuana.

Per Brian McTaggart of MLB.com, the Astros released the following statement regarding Singelton’s comments:

“We applaud Jon for the courage he has shown in tackling this issue head on. He has displayed a great deal of maturity and commitment over the past year and has the full support of the Astros organization. He is on the right track for his baseball career, and, more importantly, for his life. We are very proud of Jon.”

Marcus Stroman named World Baseball Classic MVP

Denis Poroy/Getty Images
1 Comment

United States starter Marcus Stroman was named Most Valuable Player of the World Baseball Classic after helping lead the U.S. to its first ever WBC title on Wednesday night in an 8-0 victory over Puerto Rico. Stroman flirted with a no-hitter through six innings, but gave up a double to lead off the seventh before being relieved by Sam Dyson.

Stroman also pitched 4 2/3 scoreless innings against the Dominican Republic in Pool C play on March 11. He struggled in Pool F play against Puerto Rico last Friday, surrendering four runs in 4 2/3 innings.

The WBC MVP award understandably goes to a player of the winning team. However, Wladimir Balentien of the Netherlands deserves special mention. In 26 at-bats during the WBC, he hit a double and had a WBC-high four home runs, 12 RBI, and 12 runs scored while putting up a .615/.677/.1.115 batting line. That’s MVP-esque as far as this tournament is concerned.

U.S. blanks Puerto Rico 8-0 to win first World Baseball Classic title

Harry How/Getty Images
6 Comments

The United States handed Puerto Rico its first loss in the World Baseball Classic, winning 8-0 for its first title in the fourth iteration of the tournament.

Puerto Rico starter Seth Lugo was matching Marcus Stroman zero-for-zero through the first two innings, but the U.S. broke out for a pair of runs when Ian Kinsler deposited a two-run home run just beyond the fence in left-center at Dodger Stadium. The U.S. tacked on two more in the fifth on RBI singles from Christian Yelich and Andrew McCutchen, pushing the lead to 4-0.

Meanwhile, Stroman was dealing. The right-hander, normally seen in a Blue Jays uniform, held Puerto Rico hitless through his first six innings, giving up just a lone walk. The U.S. put together a long rally in the top of the seventh, scoring three runs on three hits, two walks, and a hit batter. Stroman came back out for the seventh but immediately served up a double down the left field line to Angel Pagan. U.S. manager Jim Leyland immediately lifted Stroman from the game, bringing in Sam Dyson who escaped the inning without any further damage.

Pat Neshek allowed a leadoff single to Yadier Molina to begin the eighth, but induced a double-play, then worked around a two-out walk by striking out Kenny Vargas to end the frame.

In the ninth, David Robertson took over. He induced an infield pop-up from Enrique Hernandez. After Pagan singled up the middle, Francisco Lindor sharply grounded out to Eric Hosmer at first base for the second out. Finally, Robertson closed it out, inducing Carlos Correa to ground out to third base, making the U.S. 8-0 victors over Puerto Rico to win the World Baseball Classic.

Puerto Rico had an admirable run, defeating Venezuela, Mexico, and Italy to get out of Pool D undefeated. Then, in Pool F, it beat Venezuela again as well as the U.S. and the Dominican Republic to move to the semifinals. It narrowly edged Netherlands 4-3 in the semifinals to get into the finals.

The U.S. lost to the D.R. but beat Canada and Colombia to get out of Pool C. In Pool F, the U.S. lost to Puerto Rico and defeated the D.R again as well as Venezuela. The U.S. took down Japan in the semifinals to advance to the finals to play Puerto Rico.

The U.S. joins Japan (twice, 2006 and ’09) and the Dominican Republic (2013) as countries to win the World Baseball Classic. The 2017 tournament was a rousing success, setting attendance records, drawing over one million fans to ballparks to take in the games. It will hopefully encourage commissioner Rob Manfred and others to make a concerted effort to make the 2021 tournament bigger and better.