Tigers ace Justin Verlander has never been shy about sharing his feelings concerning players using performance-enhancing drugs. Last year, he spoke up in favor of more severe punishments for those caught using, even going as far as to suggest a permanent ban for first-time users. “It’s too easy for guys to serve a suspension and come back and still get paid,” he said.
Verlander is now suggesting something even more draconian: drug testing upon entering the clubhouse every day, as Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports. “Test me every day,” Verlander said. “I’m passionate about it. This is a great game. I love the challenge of it. But you like to know it’s fair.”
Verlander continued, “If you come in every day knowing you’ll be peeing into a cup, that should deter people.”
I can think of at least one group that would fight against any such effort: the players’ union. And though Verlander would argue otherwise, PED use is not really a problem in the game anymore. Dee Gordon and Jenrry Mejia are really the only major league regulars to end up testing positive and Mejia is permanently banned, having tested positive three times. Almost every other player that has been caught in recent years is a minor leaguer or a fringe major leaguer, the type of players Verlander would dominate even if they were legally allowed to use steroids.
Verlander’s proposition is a solution in search of a problem. But as Craig points out, this is just par for the course:
Newsday’s Marc Carig reports that Mets reliever Fernando Salas won’t be allowed to play in Grapefruit League games until his work visa issue is sorted out. Thus far, Salas has only been allowed to participate in simulated games.
Salas got the proper paperwork filled out in order to play in the World Baseball Classic. He intends to pitch for Team Mexico. Their first game begins on March 10.
Salas, 31, joined the Mets at the August 31 waiver deadline from the Angels. Prior to the trade, he had a 4.47 ERA with a 45/19 K/BB ratio in 56 1/3 innings for the Angels. He turned his season around in the final month with the Mets, working 17 1/3 innings with a 2.08 ERA and a 19/0 K/BB ratio.
With Jeurys Familia likely to be suspended to begin the regular season, Salas was in line to be the set-up man before interim closer Addison Reed. The Mets are hopeful that Salas will get the work visa issue addressed in time for the regular season.
The Dodgers and Mariners swapped some minor leaguers on Wednesday evening. The Dodgers announced the acquisition of infielder Drew Jackson and pitcher Aneurys Zabala from the Mariners in exchange for pitcher Chase De Jong.
Jackson, 23, was the Mariners’ top infield prospect according to MLB Pipeline. He was selected by the Mariners in the fifth round of the 2015 draft. Last year, at High-A Bakersfield, Jackson hit .258/.332/.345 with six home runs, 47 RBI, 87 runs scored, and 16 stolen bases in 598 plate appearances as a shortstop. Jackson is known for having plenty of speed and a strong arm.
Zabala, 20, spent last season with the Mariners’ rookie ball team. He made 16 relief appearances spanning 25 innings, putting up a 2.88 ERA with a 28/15 K/BB ratio. The Mariners signed him as an international free agent in April 2014.
De Jong, 23, was rated as the Dodgers’ 16th-best prospect and seventh-best pitching prospect by MLB Pipeline. The Blue Jays selected him in the second round of the 2012 draft. De Jong spent last year mostly with Double-A Tulsa, posting a 2.86 ERA with a 125/39 K/BB ratio in 141 2/3 innings. He was promoted to Triple-A Oklahoma City in September and made one solid start.