A's Sheets roughed up by minor leaguers

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spt-story-ben-sheets-100325.standard[1].jpgThe Associated Press reported that Ben Sheets got his world rocked again on Thursday, this time by some minor leaguers in a game in Phoenix.

Oakland’s prized free-agent signee, who has struggled mightily this spring, allowed three runs and nine hits in six-plus innings. His changeup was poor, and he allowed several hard-hit balls, including a two-run home run.

It was also, however, Sheets’ best outing of the spring, and Susan Slusser at the San Francisco Chronicle had a slightly more positive spin:

Nevertheless, Sheets accomplished what he wanted to, getting in a lot of innings and 85 pitches. His fastball hit 92 mph, according to A’s minor-league pitcher Matt Wright, manning the radar gun and charting pitches today.

Sheets will make his final start before the regular season on Tuesday, and he’s not concerned about his mediocre to occasionally disastrous (10 batters faced, none retired) spring results. Since he hasn’t pitched in more than a year, the main thing is that he’s healthy and that he gets in his work. He always has awful springs, he said, and Sheets seems like a fellow who knows himself pretty well. He’s known for his bulldog mentality, and those guys tend to be able to turn it on when the games mean something.

That take certainly holds a fair amount of logic and sounds very good. And I realize you can’t always put much stock in spring training results, when you’ll often see pitchers just working on improving a particular pitch or on hitting a particular location. But with the season nearly here the time for tinkering is over, and Sheets has been really bad this spring. The A’s can’t feel too confident on handing $10 million to a struggling pitcher who hasn’t pitched when “the games mean something” since 2008.

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MLB, union resume blood testing after pandemic, lockout

Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports
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NEW YORK – In the first acknowledgment that MLB and the players’ association resumed blood testing for human growth hormone, the organizations said none of the 1,027 samples taken during the 2022 season tested positive.

HGH testing stopped in 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Testing also was halted during the 99-day lockout that ended in mid-March, and there were supply chain issues due to COVID-19 and additional caution in testing due to coronavirus protocols.

The annual public report is issued by Thomas M. Martin, independent program administrator of MLB’s joint drug prevention and treatment program. In an announcement accompanying Thursday’s report, MLB and the union said test processing is moving form the INRS Laboratory in Quebec, Canada, to the UCLA Laboratory in California.

MLB tests for HGH using dried blood spot testing, which was a change that was agreed to during bargaining last winter. There were far fewer samples taken in 2022 compared to 2019, when there were 2,287 samples were collected – none positive.

Beyond HGH testing, 9,011 urine samples were collected in the year ending with the 2022 World Series, up from 8,436 in the previous year but down from 9,332 in 2019. And therapeutic use exemptions for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder dropped for the ninth straight year, with just 72 exemptions in 2022.

Overall, the league issued six suspensions in 2022 for performance-enhancing substances: three for Boldenone (outfielder/first baseman Danny Santana, pitcher Richard Rodriguez and infielder Jose Rondon, all free agents, for 80 games apiece); one each for Clomiphene (Milwaukee catcher Pedro Severino for 80 games), Clostebol (San Diego shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. for 80 games) and Stanozolol (Milwaukee pitcher J.C. Mejia for 80 games).

There was an additional positive test for the banned stimulant Clobenzorex. A first positive test for a banned stimulant results in follow-up testing with no suspension.