Jose Bautista denies performance-enhancing claims

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Jose Bautista, as we mentioned earlier, launched his 39th and 40th home runs of the season on Monday night in the Blue Jays’ 3-2 defeat of the Yankees. 

Because his previous career-high home run total was 16 and because we as baseball fans have been burned in the past by many a slugger, the 29-year-old Bautista is having to answer questions about his training methods.  This from the Toronto Globe and Mail:

“Nobody’s said anything to me, and I don’t see why they should. Baseball
has a strict policy against those performance-enhancing whatever you
want to call them. 

It’s not a secret and I didn’t reinvent the wheel,” Bautista continued. “I
keep saying it because it’s the truth. It’s as simple as getting [my
swing] started earlier, and I’ve got Cito and [hitting coach] Dwayne
Murphy to thank for that.”

Is it wrong that he’s forced to deal with such inquires because of the mistakes of the home run hitters that came before him?  Sure.  But we’re not that far removed from the steroid era, and we might not even be removed at all.  Heck, Marlins catcher Ronny Paulino was busted for performance-enhancers just last week.

Let’s keep in mid, however, that baseball statistics have a tendency to spike and that every player goes through peaks and valleys.  Bautista is batting .258 with a .970 OPS, 40 home runs and 95 RBI through 438 at-bats.  He’s having a career year, and that is probably all that’s going on.

Rays sign lefty Ryan Merritt to a minor league deal

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The Tampa Bay Rays have signed lefty swingman Ryan Merritt to a minor league contract. Nah, it’s not a big signing but we’ll take anything today.

Merritt, who has spent his entire career in the Indians organization, spent the entire 2018 season at Triple-A Columbus. It wasn’t a bad year for him — he posted a 3.79 ERA and a 52/2 K/BB ratio in 13 starts and two relief appearances covering 71.1 innings — but the Tribe just couldn’t find a role for him at the big league level. He has shown in the past, however, that he can hack it in the bigs, having posted a 1.71 ERA in 31.2 innings with the Indians between 2016-2017.

His thing is that he simply doesn’t strike guys out at anything approaching a typical clip for a big leaguer: 3.7 per nine innings in his small sample of major league outings and 6.3 Ks per nine innings in the minors. Which, while it may not prevent him from having success at the big league level, is likely a reason for the limited number of chances he’s been given.

The Rays are probably the best place he could go, frankly. They’ve shown themselves willing to utilize guys in unique ways and are more likely than most teams to find places to spot a lefty control specialist who has shown he can both start and come out of the pen.