Mark Buehrle stands behind comments about Michael Vick

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Last week Scott Merkin of MLB.com wrote an article about Mark Buehrle’s passion for animal rights and Buehrle made some comments about Michael Vick, including stuff like “I know it’s bad to say, but there were times where we hope he gets hurt” and “everything you’ve done to these dogs, something bad needs to happen to these guys.”

His comments predictably generated a lot of attention and MLB.com mysteriously removed the quotes from Merkin’s article after it was published, but today Buehrle had no problem standing behind what he said:

No, I said it. It’s an old story. Again, we are not bringing drama inside and past history stuff. So, I said it, meant it. It’s over, and we’ll move on.

In the wake of Buehrle’s initial comments our NBCSports.com blog-mate Rick Chandler noted that Buehrle hunts deer, ducks, and even bears. Here’s how Buehrle responded when asked about that:

Hunting is a sport. There are hunting stores out there. If that’s illegal, shame on my dad and my grandpa and his grandpa. It’s kind of been brought up throughout the history of America. The last time I knew dogfighting was a sport was never. Again, that’s all we need to comment on that. We’ll concentrate on baseball.

To be pro-hunting and anti-dogfighting is obviously a widely held stance, but I’m not sure simply relying on tradition as the main reason is much of an argument. Many people don’t think the distinction between killing animals and killing animals for “sport” is quite so clear and to say something is acceptable because it’s been happening for a long time isn’t necessarily convincing, since dogfighting and similarly frowned-upon activities involving animals being hurt or killed aren’t exactly new things.

Putting all that aside, I applaud Buehrle and his family for their work with animal rescue groups and I also applaud Buehrle for standing by what he said about Vick. Whether or not you agree with him, it’s obvious he meant what he said and too often public figures simply decide to disown or apologize for their comments when scrutinized even if their beliefs were represented accurately. If you said it and you believe it stand by it, and Buehrle is doing that.

Nathan Eovaldi to make 2018 debut for Rays soon

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Rays manager Kevin Cash said that pitcher Nathan Eovaldi will join the starting rotation on Monday or Tuesday to face the Athletics, Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times reports. Eovaldi’s rehab outing with Triple-A Durham went well, even though he gave up eight runs in four innings.

Eovaldi, 28, hasn’t pitched in the majors since 2016 after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He had arthroscopic surgery in March to remove loose bodies in his elbow. It’s been a long road back. Knowing Eovaldi needed to recover from surgery, the Rays signed him to a one-year, $2 million contract in 2017 that included a $2 million club option for 2018 that they exercised last November.

When Eovaldi last pitched, he ranked among baseball’s hardest throwers, particularly among starters. He averaged 97.1 MPH on his fastball in 2016. Among starters who racked up at least 100 innings that season, only the Mets’ Noah Syndergaard had a higher average velocity (97.9 MPH). It remains to be seen if he still has that velocity after undergoing two procedures on his elbow.

The Rays will be glad to have Eovaldi back. The club has sustained injuries to Jake Faria, Yonny Chirinos, and Jose De Leon.