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Does baseball have a cocaine problem?

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Andy Martino — who covered the Phillies and Mets for years before moving on to other beats — has a story about baseball up at the Huffington Post today. It’s a provocative one and an interesting one. It’s about the use of recreational drugs in Major League baseball.

It’s not a comprehensive study or anything like that. More of a question-asking affair. He speaks to a recently-retired big leaguer who talks about his own cocaine and marijuana use and that of some of his teammates. He also speaks to four major leaguers — two active, two recently retired — and has them estimate the percentage of players who use such drugs:

Three of the players offered educated guesses that ranged from 5 percent to 25 percent for cocaine, and 25 percent to 75 percent for marijuana. A fourth player, this one a current star for a contending team, offered a more modest estimate, saying that “one or two guys” on his ballclub used either cocaine or marijuana.

Again, anecdotal. And it’s worth noting that snorting coke is not exactly the sort of thing a guy would do in the clubhouse or talk about too openly. Baseball players are not the most reliable narrators and I’d take any guesses most of them have along these lines with a grain of salt.

Martino reminds us, though, that it’d be impossible for Major League Baseball to know about any of this itself, as its drug policy does not call for random drug tests for recreational drugs. It can only do so based on probable cause. As long as you stay out of trouble when it comes to this stuff, you can do lines during the day and hit line drives in the evening and never run afoul of Rob Manfred and his men.

Should anything change about this?

It depends on the drug, I suppose. Marijuana, which is mentioned in the article, has been shown time and time again to not be an addictive or particularly dangerous drug for most people (north of 90% of users do not become addicted). It’s deleterious effects are far less than that of alcohol, which is perfectly legal. It’s likewise legal or non-criminal in several jurisdictions now and has been shown to have medicinal benefits. Major League Baseball cracking down on players smoking pot in their downtime would be a dumb thing in my view. A waste of resources and a poor setting of priorities.

What about cocaine, though? As Martino notes, two players — Tommy Hanson and Jose Fernandez — have recently died while under the influence of cocaine. It was the direct cause in Hanson’s death and a contributing cause to the boat crash which killed Fernandez. It’s, in and of itself, a dangerous, addiction-forming drug. It’s also one with which baseball has a profoundly troubled history. I’ve written about this at length in the past.

Will Martino’s article hang out there for a couple of days and disappear, or will others start talking about it? If they do, will MLB pay any attention to it and, if so, how? MLB is nothing if not an organization which reacts to public opinion, so I’d be curious to see if it does here.

Mets trade Curtis Granderson to the Dodgers

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The Mets traded centerfielder Curtis Granderson to the Dodgers for cash considerations or a player to be named later, the teams announced late Friday night. Granderson was rumored to be drawing interest from teams earlier in the week, and found a landing place after slashing .256/.360/.721 since the start of the month. In a corresponding move, the Dodgers designated right-hander Dylan Floro for assignment to clear roster space for the outfielder.

As a whole, the 36-year-old’s 2017 campaign has been a tad underwhelming. Granderson entered Saturday batting .228/.334/.481 with 19 home runs and an .815 OPS through 395 PA, and accrued 1.7 fWAR to the 5.1 fWAR he produced during his pennant-winning, MVP-contending season in 2015. Still, with under $4 million remaining on his contract, another 20+ homer season around the corner and the defensive chops to man center field, it looks like a prudent deal for the Dodgers as they continue to bulldoze their way to the playoffs this fall.

The club has yet to outline their plans for Granderson, but his addition to a crowded outfield could displace centerfielder Joc Pederson, who turned in a meager .214/.329/.415 batting line through 292 PA in 2017. It could also have ramifications for fellow veteran Andre Ethier, assuming he’s healthy enough to compete for a starting role when he comes off the 60-day disabled list in September. The Mets, meanwhile, are expected to lean more heavily on rookie outfielder Brandon Nimmo, who’s made just five starts this season after struggling to get consistent playing time on the field.

Corey Kluber exits game with right ankle sprain

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Indians’ right-hander Corey Kluber was removed from the sixth inning of his start on Friday night, bringing a streak of 14 starts with 8+ strikeouts to an unfortunate end after he sprained his right ankle. Kluber stumbled off the mound while trying to field a base hit from Eric Hosmer and was seen visibly limping as he moved to cover first base. He was allowed to stay in the game for one more batter, but quickly yielded a three-pitch single to Melky Cabrera and left the mound with head athletic trainer James Quinlan.

It was a poor ending to another strong outing by the right-hander, who delivered 5 1/3 innings of one-run, four-strikeout ball and took his 12th win of the season after the Indians amassed a nine-run lead. Postgame comments by Cleveland skipper Terry Francona suggest that Kluber isn’t facing a serious setback after sustaining the sprain, however, and might even be good to go by the time his next start comes around on Wednesday.

While the Royals escaped Friday’s loss without injury, the 10-1 drubbing pushed them 6.5 games back of the division lead and half a game behind the Twins and Angels for the second AL wild card berth. They’ll host a rematch on Saturday at 7:15 ET, with left-hander Jason Vargas set to face off against Indians’ righty Trevor Bauer.