Brewers slugger Eric Thames has been repeatedly called upon for a drug test this season. A large part of it has to do with the fact that he’s a player coming to the U.S. to play baseball from a foreign country (Korea). Another part of it, presumably, is that Thames got off to a roaring start, blasting 13 home runs in his first 31 games. John Lackey and Chris Bosio, in April, implied Thames used performance-enhancing drugs despite Thames having been tested repeatedly and having passed each of those tests.
Then Thames dealt with some soreness in his lower half and battled strep throat. As a result, between May 10 and May 30, Thames didn’t homer once and hit a meager .156 with just two extra-base hits in 59 plate appearances.
Thames busted out of his slump on Wednesday against the Mets, drilling a two-run home run off of Jacob deGrom in the first inning. He also doubled and walked twice in five trips to the plate. His reward? A “random” drug test, Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports. Thames found the situation funny but doesn’t believe that he’s being randomly selected.
Thames went 0-for-5 with three strikeouts in Thursday’s win over the Mets. There were no reports that Thames had to provide another sample after this particular contest.
The Athletics followed Friday’s 3-0 shutout with a rookie-led home run derby on Saturday afternoon, watching not one, not two, but three rookies belt their first major league home runs off of the White Sox’ James Shields.
Right fielder Matt Olson was the first to strike, taking Shields deep on a first-pitch, two-run blast in the first inning for his first home run in 49 major league plate appearances:
Fellow outfielder Jaycob Brugman duplicated his teammate’s results in the second inning with a solo home run, his first extra-base hit of any kind since he made his debut on June 9:
In the third, with a comfortable 4-0 lead backing two scoreless frames from Oakland right-hander Daniel Gossett, Franklin Barreto took his shot at Shields. After getting the call several hours prior to Saturday’s game, he became the fastest of the three rookies to record his first big league homer, going yard on a 2-2 changeup and driving in Bruce Maxwell to give the A’s a six-run advantage.
The Athletics currently lead the White Sox 8-2 in the top of the sixth inning.
The Athletics called up their top prospect on Saturday, inserting shortstop Franklin Barreto into the lineup for their second game against the White Sox. Barreto was originally scheduled to make his major league debut on Sunday, but got a head start after Jed Lowrie sustained a minor knee sprain in Friday’s 3-0 win and was scratched from Saturday’s lineup.
Barreto, 21, has been rapidly climbing the rungs of the A’s minor league system after getting dealt by the Blue Jays in 2014. He got his first taste of Triple-A action late last year, going 6-for-17 with three RBI and getting caught stealing in two attempts. He fared little better this spring, slashing .281/.326/.428 with eight home runs and a .754 OPS through his first 309 PA in Nashville.
While his minor league production has been solid, if underwhelming for a prospect of his caliber, the A’s are expected to give the rookie infielder a long leash with both Marcus Semien and Chad Pinder sitting on the disabled list. Pinder landed on the 10-day DL after suffering a left hamstring strain on Friday. Semien, meanwhile, is still working his way back from the 60-day DL with a right wrist fracture and likely won’t rejoin the team until he completes a rehab assignment with High-A Stockton.