It used to be that when baseball did things with its drug program, the league was accused of merely being reactive in an effort to calm down P.R. problems. If baseball had merely jacked up penalties for drug offenses — which they are reportedly doing — one might arguably say that’s what MLB was doing here, as a reaction to Biogenesis stuff. But, according to this Bob Nightengale report — from an unnamed source, so the specifics could still change — that’s not all they’re doing:
The new agreement will not only increase the drug penalties, but also implement widespread carbon isotope testing, the official said, hoping to dramatically increase the detection of a synthetic testosterone.
That’s a big deal, because the biggest problem with the Biogenesis thing wasn’t that it was somehow different or more insidious than your usual run-of-the-mill cheating, it’s that MLB didn’t catch the guys without help of an alternative newspaper in Miami. If MLB catches A-Rod on a drug test in 2012, it’s a totally different situation. Other players involved in Biogenesis may stop using. A protracted dispute about the length of penalties is not had and that arbitration from last year doesn’t exist. Toughening the testing and not letting players who use PEDs feel like they can get away with it is essential to cutting down on PED use.
But of course, increased penalties are part of the system too:
The official said first-time offenses will be 80 games, an increase from 50, and a second offense will be for an entire 162-game season instead of 100 games. There will be a lifetime suspension for a third offense.
I have no problem with this. It’s what the players want, and that’s the most important thing. It isn’t terribly draconian yet it does raise the stakes. Most importantly, there have been reports that there will be safeguards in place for players who can show that they inadvertently took a PED, so the situation that is most worrisome — a guy’s career being put at risk for an honest mistake — is off the table.
Interesting times for what many consider to be U.S. sports’ strongest drug program.
TORONTO (AP) The Toronto Blue Jays have placed Troy Tulowitzki on the 15-day disabled list with a right quad injury.
An MRI before Saturday’s game against the Boston Red Sox revealed a low-grade strain, and Tulowitzki will receive treatment on the leg before resuming baseball activities.
“I think I needed more time to get over the hump,” he said. “There was a couple things that made me realize that I wasn’t myself out there. I just felt it too many times.”
Tulowitzki was injured stealing second in New York against the Yankees on Tuesday. He came out of that game, and after sitting out the remainder of the series, he returned for Friday night’s home game against the Red Sox but was ineffective, going 0-for-4 with four strikeouts and showing limitations in his movement in the field.
“It’s tough,” Tulowitzki said. “You could rest it and maybe get better in a week or so, but then you have to play with a man down, and that’s not the right thing to do either, so that was the decision.”
He is batting .204 this season, with eight home runs and 23 RBIs. Ryan Goins and Darwin Barney are expected to split time at shortstop until Tulowitzki returns.
The Blue Jays called up left-handed reliever Aaron Loup to take Tulowitzki’s spot on the roster. Loup, who has yet to play this season, has been recovering from a forearm strain in his pitching arm and just completed a rehab assignment with Triple-A Buffalo.
The Mets have acquired first baseman James Loney from the Padres in exchange for cash, ESPN’s Adam Rubin reported on Saturday afternoon. The Mets’ interest in Loney was first reported on Tuesday after learning that Lucas Duda would be out “a while” with a stress fracture in his back.
Loney, 32, has spent the entirety of the 2016 season with Triple-A El Paso in the Padres’ system. He hit .342/.373/.424 with two home runs and 28 RBI in 169 plate appearances.
Rubin suggests Loney could platoon at first base with Wilmer Flores, who is expected to return from the disabled list soon.
ATLANTA (AP) The Atlanta Braves have placed shortstop Erick Aybar on the 15-day disabled list with a bruised right foot.
Aybar left Friday night’s game in the fifth, one inning after he was hit by a pitch from Miami’s Adam Conley. The Braves said Friday night that X-rays were negative.
Aybar, acquired as part of the offseason deal that sent shortstop Andrelton Simmons to the Los Angeles Angels, is hitting .182.
Daniel Castro is starting at shortstop in Saturday’s game against the Marlins.
In a corresponding move, the Braves recalled right-hander Aaron Blair from Triple-A Gwinnett to start Saturday’s game.
Red Sox manager John Farrell announced Friday that Clay Buchholz has been moved to the bullpen.
Buchholz was lit up for six runs on Thursday in just the latest poor outing in a year full of them thus far. His ERA now sits at a lofty 6.35 and he is posting a career low strikeout rate of 5.9 per nine innings while both his walk rate and his home run rates have spiked. His WHIP — 1.465 — is the worst he’s posted since 2008.
Eduardo Rodriguez will take his place in the rotation when he comes off the disabled list. He’ll get what would have been Buchholz’s next start on Tuesday.
According to the depth chart, Buchholz was the Red Sox’ second starter. He’s been their worst starter by far this year, however, and now he’s likely a long man who will be seeing mopup duty for the foreseeable future.