Bill Baer

Chicago Cubs starting pitcher Jake Arrieta throws in the first inning of a baseball game against the Cincinnati Reds, Thursday, April 21, 2016, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
AP Photo/John Minchillo

Jake Arrieta on PED whispers: “The 10 tests I take a year say otherwise.”


We have a certified genesis story for Jake Arrieta‘s rise to superstardom. Orioles closer Zach Britton elucidated on that, as mentioned on Monday, saying, “[The Orioles] took away the individual approach to everything.” Jake Arrieta, once a top prospect in the Orioles’ minor league system, had a cut fastball, but the O’s forbade him from throwing it. It wasn’t until Arrieta joined the Cubs in a trade that he began throwing the cutter again. The rest, as they say, is history.

Still, there have been many whispers from fans and players alike that Arrieta owes his success to performance-enhancing drugs. Bob Nightengale of USA TODAY spoke to Arrieta about those rumors, and Arrieta responded as well as one could have hoped.

“I’ve heard players, and I’m talking about some of the best players in the league,’’ Arrieta told USA TODAY Sports, “question whether I’ve taken steroids or not. Some of the things I hear are pretty funny, and some people are idiots, frankly.

“I’ll see on Twitter, ‘My close source revealed to me he’s on steroids.’ Well, the 10 tests I take a year say otherwise. I eat plants. I eat lean meat. I work out. And I do things the right way.

“If there are guys still on it, I hope they get caught. I care about the integrity of the game. I wouldn’t want to disappoint my family, my friends, my fans. That’s a huge motivating factor in doing it the right way.

“There are so many people that are counting on you, and leaning on all of us in this clubhouse to do some special things for the city of Chicago. To jeopardize that by taking banned substances, would be a ridiculous mistake.’’

He laughs at the cynicism and innuendo, without displaying the slightest hint of anger.

“Hey, that’s one of the best compliments you can give a guy,’’ he says. “I appreciate the fact that you think I’m pretty good, but taking steroids, that’s pushing it.’’

It isn’t even as if Arrieta had been linked to PEDs through the Biogenesis scandal, or failed a test at the minor league level. Some people, for whatever reason, can’t accept that a guy who had a 5.46 ERA over parts of four seasons with the Orioles went on to author two no-hitters and win a Cy Young Award with the Cubs without the help of illegal substances.

Blue Jays may revisit extension talks with Edwin Encarnacion at the All-Star break

Toronto Blue Jays' Edwin Encarnacion reacts to a called strike in the eighth inning against the New York Yankees in a baseball game Tuesday, April 12, 2016, in Toronto. The Yankees won 3-2. (Fred Thornhill/The Canadian Press via AP)
Fred Thornhill/The Canadian Press via AP

The Blue Jays and 1B/DH Edwin Encarnacion had preliminary contract extension cards early in spring training, but the two sides weren’t able to make much progress before the regular season began. MLB Network’s Jon Heyman reports that the two sides may revisit extension talks at the All-Star break, but adds that it doesn’t seem likely Encarnacion would forego free agency.

Encarnacion, 33, has been one of the game’s premier power hitters since the 2012 season. Since the beginning of that season, he has swatted 153 home runs in 2,520 plate appearances, an average of nearly 40 home runs per 650 plate appearances. He and Jose Bautista have arguably been the most feared 3-4 punch in any lineup.

Encarnacion is earning $10 million this season after the Jays exercised their club option in November. It’s the final year of what turned out to be a four-year, $39 million contract signed in July 2012.

Twins call up Jose Berrios to the majors

World's Jose Berrios throws during the first inning of the All-Star Futures baseball game against Team United States, Sunday, July 12, 2015, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
AP Photo/John Minchillo
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With Ervin Santana likely headed to the disabled list, the Twins have promoted pitching prospect Jose Berrios, Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press reports. Santana was scratched from his scheduled start on Sunday due to back stiffness. Tyler Duffey is also battling a shoulder injury, leaving the Twins a bit thin in the rotation.

Berrios, 21, was rated the Twins’ number one overall prospect and 16th overall by MLB Pipeline heading into the 2016 season. He’s started off strong, yielding only three runs (two earned) on eight hits and eight walks with 20 strikeouts in 17 innings over three starts with Triple-A Rochester. Berrios split last season between Double-A Chattanooga and Triple-A Rochester.

Berrios will start against the Indians on Wednesday, according to LaVelle E. Neal III of the Star Tribune. Neal adds that outfield prospect Jorge Polanco will also be recalled from Rochester when Santana is placed on the DL.

What’s on Tap: Previewing Tuesday’s action

Chicago White Sox starter Chris Sale throws against the Cleveland Indians during the first inning of a baseball game Saturday, April 9, 2016, in Chicago. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)
AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh

Don’t look now, but the White Sox are in first place. At 14-6, they’re a game and a half ahead of the defending world champion Royals. The White Sox were commonly found in last place in prognosticators’ preseason predictions after finishing no higher than fourth place in the AL Central in each of the previous three seasons. The White Sox aren’t hitting much, as their 3.4 runs per game average is third-worst in the American League, but their pitching has been lights out, allowing only 2.6 runs per game on average, the best mark in the league by a wide margin.

Mat Latos has been unhittable in four starts, owning a microscopic 0.74 ERA despite a mediocre 13/7 K/BB ratio in 24 1/3 innings. Jose Quintana has a 1.82 ERA with a 22/5 K/BB ratio in 24 2/3 innings. And tonight’s starter, ace Chris Sale, has won all four of his starts with a 1.80 ERA and a 26/3 K/BB ratio in 30 innings.

Sale will oppose the Blue Jays’ R.A. Dickey at the Rogers Centre, starting at 7:05 PM EST on Tuesday night. Dickey has struggled to a 6.10 ERA thus far.

The rest of Tuesday’s action…

Philadelphia Phillies (Vince Velasquez) @ Washington Nationals (Max Scherzer), 7:05 PM EST

Baltimore Orioles (Ubaldo Jimenez) @ Tampa Bay Rays (Jake Odorizzi), 7:10 PM EST

Boston Red Sox (David Price) @ Atlanta Braves (Matt Wisler), 7:10 PM EST

Cincinnati Reds (Brandon Finnegan) @ New York Mets (Bartolo Colon), 7:10 PM EST

Oakland Athletics (Rich Hill) @ Detroit Tigers (Mike Pelfrey), 7:10 PM EST

Milwaukee Brewers (Jimmy Nelson) @ Chicago Cubs (Kyle Hendricks), 8:05 PM EST

New York Yankees (Luis Severino) @ Texas Rangers (A.J. Griffin), 8:05 PM EST

Cleveland Indians (Cody Anderson) @ Minnesota Twins (Ricky Nolasco), 8:10 PM EST

Pittsburgh Pirates (Gerrit Cole) @ Colorado Rockies (Jorge De La Rosa), 8:40 PM EST

St. Louis Cardinals (Carlos Martinez) @ Arizona Diamondbacks (Shelby Miller), 9:40 PM EST

Kansas City Royals (Edinson Volquez) @ Los Angeles Angels (Jered Weaver), 10:05 PM EST

Houston Astros (Dallas Keuchel) @ Seattle Mariners (Nathan Karns), 10:10 PM EST

Miami Marlins (Tom Koehler) @ Los Angeles Dodgers (Clayton Kershaw), 10:10 PM EST

San Diego Padres (James Shields) @ San Francisco Giants (Johnny Cueto), 10:15 PM EST

Albert Pujols passes Reggie Jackson with 564th career home run

Los Angeles Angels' Albert Pujols points to the crowd after hitting a two-run home run during the first inning of a baseball game against the Seattle Mariners, Sunday, April 24, 2016, in Anaheim, Calif. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)
AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill

Albert Pujols tied Reggie Jackson for 13th on baseball’s all-time home run leaderboard with his 563rd career home run on Sunday. On Monday night, Pujols passed him with number 564. Pujols ripped an Ian Kennedy fastball to left-center for a solo home run in the bottom of the third inning, extending the Angels’ lead to 4-0 over the Royals.

The homers in back-to-back games are a good sight to see for the Angels, as Pujols came into his historic at-bat on Sunday in an 0-for-26 slump. After the homer, Pujols is hitting .162/.235/.338 with four home runs and 13 RBI in 81 plate appearances.

Rafael Palmeiro is Pujols’ next target at 569 home runs.