As the Angels’ appalling treatment of Josh Hamilton wears on, Bob Nightengale of USA Today reminds us that not all teams turn their back on players with drug problems in a craven effort to recoup some money they agreed to pay. For example, the Milwaukee Brewers and their treatment of pitcher Jeremy Jeffress, who was twice suspended for marijuana use while in the minor leagues:
Jeffress, suspended for 50 games in 2007, and 100 games in 2009, had the Brewers awaiting him with open arms. They placed him in drug rehabilitation centers after each suspension, and if not for them, Jeffress wonders whether he’d even have a baseball career.
Jeffress and his agent both wonder how the Angels could be doing what they’re doing. So do I. So do many people.
The Angels should either welcome Hamilton back, stop the media campaign and stop their attempts to circumvent his contract or they should simply release him and allow him to get on with his career with another club. That they’re unwilling to do either of those things reflects terribly on them as a club and on its owner as a human being.
Bud Selig was asked yesterday about the Ray Rice situation and Major League Baseball’s approach to domestic violence. He mentioned that, in the past, having a league policy on domestic violence had been discussed but tabled in favor of these things being handled on a case-by-case basis. He also said this:
“We haven’t had any cases I’m happy to say for a long, long time. I can’t remember when the last time was,” Selig said. “I’m grateful for that. But we deal with situations as they occur. The only thing I want to say, I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, we are a social institution and I’m proud of our record in dealing with a myriad of subjects, and we deal with them, I think, quite effectively.”
Maybe I’m missing one that is more recent, but a quick check of HBT posts shows that Everth Cabrera was charged with domestic violence in 2012. The charges were dropped. Former major leaguers Andruw Jones was arrested for domestic violence in late 2012 and Wladimir Balentien earlier this year. Francisco Rodriguez was charged in 2012, with charges eventually being dismissed. Manny Ramirez was charged in 2012 with charges dismissed when his wife was “uncooperative” with the investigation. Pitcher Jeremy Jeffress was arrested in 2012. Bobby Cox was just inducted to the baseball Hall of Fame two months ago. Indeed, there is a long and lamentable list of domestic violence incidents — some of them very serious — in recent baseball history.
Maybe two years ago was “a long, long time.” Maybe it wasn’t. Maybe baseball’s many past cases of domestic violence can be relegated to a past in which attention was simply not paid to such matters like it is now. I wouldn’t take that approach, but I do appreciate that baseball cannot do anything about incidents from the past now.
But it certainly can avoid taking Selig’s approach of “well, we’ve been good for a while so we need not do anything about it now.” That’s exactly what led to the NFL being where it is right now. Having a reactionary, ad-hoc approach to such matters instead of making its values with respect to domestic violence clear and putting all players and employees on notice that committing such acts will lead to consequences, not just from the law, but the league.
It’s why baseball needs a domestic violence policy now.
Sportsnet.ca’s Ben Nicholson-Smith reports that the Blue Jays have designated pitcher Jeremy Jeffress for assignment. The club recalled right-hander Chad Jenkins from Triple-A to take his spot on the roster. Jeffress, who earned a spot on the Jays’ 25-man roster with a solid spring showing, allowed three runs in one inning in his 2014 debut on March 31, surrendered two hits and two walks in 1 1/3 innings on Thursday, and allowed one run in one inning Friday night. His season ERA currently stands at 10.80.
Jeffress, taken by the Brewers in the first round of the 2006 draft, went to the Royals in the Zack Greinke trade in December 2010, then was purchased by the Blue Jays in November 2012. He has not had much success in 51 1/3 innings at the big league level, sporting a 4.44 career ERA.