MLB official says Ryan Braun’s 50-game PED suspension is unlikely to be overturned

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At some point within the next few weeks, Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun will have the opportunity to plead his innocence against a charge that he was taking performance-enhancing drugs around the start of the 2011 postseason. But he faces great odds.

The evidence against him comes in the form of a test, administered in either late September or early October, that had a positive reading for elevated levels of testosterone. That test was then passed along to the World Anti-Doping Agency lab in Montreal, where it was determined through further examination that the testosterone was synthetic — not produced by Braun’s body.

Braun might argue that the result was a false-positive, but an expert in the field of drug testing told Jeff Passan of Yahoo! Sports last month that those are “almost impossible” with today’s technology. Braun might say that result was triggered by a prescribed medication — something non-performance-enhancing — but how can he prove that and would it really matter if he could? The test showed insanely high levels of unnatural testosterone. However that testosterone arrived in Braun’s system, it’s against the rules for it to be there.

And even if Braun is telling the truth, and has never put synthetic testosterone into his body, a test that boasts an accuracy rating of nearly 100 percent says that the stuff was, at one point, present.

Which leads us to a report from Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, who was told this weekend by an “MLB official familiar with the process” that Braun’s 50-game suspension is unlikely to be overturned. The 2011 NL MVP deserves his day in court, and he’ll get it later this month when he presents his case in front of an arbitrator, but it’s nearly certain that he’ll miss close to one-third of the 2012 campaign.

Mariners claim Kaleb Cowart off waivers from Angels

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The Mariners announced that the club claimed Kaleb Cowart off waivers from the Angels. Interestingly, the Mariners list Cowart as both an outfielder and a right-handed pitcher. Cowart has never pitched professionally, but the Mariners will try him as a two-way player next season, Ryan Divish of the Seattle Times reports. Cowart was a highly regarded pitcher in high school.

Cowart, 26, has played all over the field, spending most of his time at third base and second base, but also logging a handful of innings at first base, shortstop, and left field.  He hasn’t hit much at all, owning a career .177/.241/.293 triple-slash line across 380 plate appearances in the big leagues. It makes sense to try another angle.

Shohei Ohtani, of course, is helping to popularize the rebirth of the two-way player. In his first year in the majors after having played in Japan for five years, Ohtani won the AL Rookie of the Year Award by posting a .925 OPS in 367 plate appearances along with a 3.31 ERA over 10 starts. Don’t expect Cowart to hit those lofty numbers, but additional versatility could prolong his life in the majors.