Marlon Byrd feels targeted over his association with Victor Conte

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We’ve noted in the past that Marlon Byrd made the strange decision a couple of years ago to start working with fomer BALCO mastermind Victor Conte.  Since 2009, Conte has supplied Byrd with supplements. Byrd remains the only Major League Baseball player who works with Conte, and now, Bruce Levine reports, Byrd says that he feels the pressure about his strange association:

“I’m always going to watch what I take. I’m not going to say I have a bull’s-eye on my back, but I think a lot of people are waiting for me to get my first positive test and miss 50 games. They’d like that just so they can say, ‘We told you so.’ I know that won’t happen. I know I’m clean. I know the supplements I take are clean. I’m going to make sure of that.”

He’s always going to watch what he takes? He knows the supplements are clean?  That’s the real news here, because in past reports about Byrd and Conte, Byrd has made it a point to say that he never even asked Conte what was in the supplements he was given. Rather, he just trusted him. This is from Steve Henson’s Yahoo! column in 2009:

Conte has provided the Texas Rangers center fielder with a variety of pills and powders for 18 months. Not once has Byrd asked Conte whether any of it could trigger a positive drug test.

“I didn’t need to,” Byrd said. “From our conversations, there was no need to ask.”

What has changed since 2009, when Byrd was notably not incurious, and today’s quotes to Levine?  The only think I know of is that Major League Baseball raised a stink about the Byrd-Conte association, even though they were powerless to do anything about it.

Did this stink make Byrd start checking up on what his supplement provider is giving him? Or is he acting as he always did and merely wants to deflect the heat?

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.