The new HGH testing will be kind of weird

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The announcement that the new collective bargaining agreement provides for testing for HGH was a bit surprising, but the way it’s being implemented is kind of surprising too.  Here’s a mashup of Buster Olney’s tweets in the past few minutes reporting on that:

On HGH testing: It’s TBD when/if it goes into effect. There will be a test of HGH testing in the upcoming spring training … Players will be blood tested this spring, to determine energy levels after testing; results of testing will be discarded … Then, after results of physical reaction to blood testing is determined, the two sides will determine when and how to proceed … The blood samples taken next spring training can be tested for HGH; the first offseason testing will start next winter, 2012-2013.

There’s a lot of prudence there. When the topic of blood testing was first mentioned several years ago there was concern that players giving blood would be detrimental to their conditioning and energy-levels. This phase-in/testing regime seems to address that.

But I do love the idea of these baseline blood tests being “discarded.”  The last time that was promised for baseball drug testing a bunch of over-zealous feds seized all of the results, started prosecuting people and years of litigation ensured.  Here’s hoping there’s a “must-destroy” date inserted in the final paperwork.

Reds having Michael Lorenzen prepare as a two-way player

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For decades, a legitimate “two-way player” — a player who functions as both a pitcher and as a position player — was nothing but a fantasy. The skill sets required for both are too distinct and require too much prep work, it was thought. The Angels’ Shohei Ohtani shattered that illusion in 2018, posting a .925 OPS in 367 plate appearances as a hitter while posting a 3.31 ERA in 51 2/3 innings as a pitcher.

Since then, several more players have been considered in two-way roles. The Rangers signed Matt Davidson earlier this month and could potentially use him as a corner infielder as well as a reliever. Also earlier this month, James Loney signed with the independent Atlantic League’s Sugar Land Skeeters, who plan to use him as both a first baseman and as a pitcher.

You can add Michael Lorenzen of the Reds to that list. MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon reports that the Reds will have Lorenzen prepare this spring as a two-way player. He could both start and relieve while occasionally playing in the outfield. Lorenzen, in fact, took batting practice with the outfielders on Thursday. Previously, he had taken batting practice as extra work following a workout with fellow pitchers.

Lorenzen said, “It’s fantastic, the effort they’re putting in. A lot of the excuses were, ‘You know, we don’t want to overwork him.’ Well, let’s just sit down and talk about it then. They were willing to sit down and talk about it, which is one of the reasons why I love this staff so much and why I think the front office did a great job [hiring] this staff. They’re willing to find solutions for problems.”

New manager David Bell said, “We’ve put together a plan for the whole spring, knowing we can adjust it at any time. We didn’t want to go into each day not knowing what he’s going to do. We all felt better, he did, too. He was part of putting it together.”

Lorenzen, 27, pitched 81 innings last year with a 3.11 ERA and a 54/34 K/BB ratio. He’s one of baseball’s best-hitting pitchers as well. Last year, he swatted four homers and knocked in 10 runs in 34 trips to the plate. The last pitcher to hit at least four homers in a season was the Giants’ Madison Bumgarner, who did it in both 2014 (four) and 2015 (five). Lorenzen also posted a 1.043 OPS. According to Baseball Reference, there have been only 11 pitchers to OPS over 1.000 (min. 30 PA). The only ones to do it in the 2000’s are Lorenzen last year, Micah Owings in 2007 (1.033) and Dontrelle Willis in 2011 (1.032).