Craig Calcaterra

Blogger at NBC Sport.com's HardballTalk. Recovering litigator. Rake. Scoundrel. Notorious Man-About-Town.
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Phillies pitcher Alex Asher suspended 80-games for PEDs

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Major League Baseball just announced that Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Alec Asher has received an 80-game suspension without pay after testing positive for Dehydrochlormethyltestosterone, a performance-enhancing substance.

Asher is on the 40-man roster but he has spent all year in the minors. There he has split eight starts between Double-A and Triple-A, pitching quite well this season. Last year he pitched in seven games for the Phillies at the big league level, posting an unsightly 9.31 ERA.

Asher was a fourth round pick by the Rangers in 2012. He came over to Philly last year as part of the package which sent Cole Hamels to Texas.

The Cubs are calling up Willson Contreras

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Ken Rosenthal reports that the Cubs will promote top catching prospect Willson Contreras before tomorrow’s game.

Contreras is one of the game’s top prospects and he’s currently raking at Triple-A Iowa, boasting a .350/.439/.591 batting line with nine homers and 16 doubles in 239 plate appearances this season. How much he’ll play in Chicago is an open question, however, given that they already have two catchers in Miguel Montero and David Ross. Rosenthal says that the Cubs will carry three catchers for now. Worth noting that the Cubs do not play an interleague game until after the All-Star break, so DHing Contreras to see how his bat plays is not really an option for a while.

Given David Ross’ popularity in the clubhouse, status as a team leader and given how much Cubs pitchers like throwing to him (particularly Jon Lester), it seems more likely that Montero will get some more time on the pine in the short term.

David Wright to undergo neck surgery

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The Mets announced this morning that third baseman and team captain David Wright will undergo surgery on the herniated disk in his neck. Officially there is no timetable for his return, but when the possibility of surgery was first raised the other day it was thought that surgery would end Wright’s 2016 season. It likely will.

Wright was placed on the disabled list earlier this month, retroactive to May 28. He was diagnosed with spinal stenosis — a narrowing of the spinal column — last season. Despite all of that, Wright was hitting well prior to landing on the DL, carrying a .788 OPS with seven home runs and 14 RBI in 164 plate appearances.

While the pennant-winning 2015 campaign brought warm feelings, Wright was limited to 38 games last season. He played in 37 this year. Sadly, these injuries are essentially ending Wright’s time as a regular contributor. Given that they’re the sort of injuries which could likewise impact his off-the-field life, they could end his career outright. Just an unfortunate set of circumstances for a guy who even when experiencing criticism from the fans and the press, has never wavered in his commitment to the Mets and has never not played hard.