Jeff Francis won’t opt out of minor-league deal with Reds

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As part of his minor-league contract with the Reds left-hander Jeff Francis the ability to opt out and become a free agent again if he’s not added to the 40-man roster by March 28, but that won’t be happening.

Mark Sheldon of MLB.com reports that his odds of securing a spot in the Reds’ rotation are slim–if anything Cincinnati already has too many starters for the five slots–but Francis laid out his plans:

I’m not going to go home. I’ll be pitching. I am not even thinking about it. I’m just trying to get people out.

Either he’s quickly fallen in love with the Reds organization or Francis’ agent has advised him that they still don’t have any big-league offers, or maybe both.

He’s pitched fairly well so far in four starts, but may have to accept a long-relief role or perhaps even prove himself with an extended stint back in the minors for the first time since 2004.

MLB, union resume blood testing after pandemic, lockout

Scott Taetsch-USA TODAY Sports
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NEW YORK – In the first acknowledgment that MLB and the players’ association resumed blood testing for human growth hormone, the organizations said none of the 1,027 samples taken during the 2022 season tested positive.

HGH testing stopped in 2021 because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Testing also was halted during the 99-day lockout that ended in mid-March, and there were supply chain issues due to COVID-19 and additional caution in testing due to coronavirus protocols.

The annual public report is issued by Thomas M. Martin, independent program administrator of MLB’s joint drug prevention and treatment program. In an announcement accompanying Thursday’s report, MLB and the union said test processing is moving form the INRS Laboratory in Quebec, Canada, to the UCLA Laboratory in California.

MLB tests for HGH using dried blood spot testing, which was a change that was agreed to during bargaining last winter. There were far fewer samples taken in 2022 compared to 2019, when there were 2,287 samples were collected – none positive.

Beyond HGH testing, 9,011 urine samples were collected in the year ending with the 2022 World Series, up from 8,436 in the previous year but down from 9,332 in 2019. And therapeutic use exemptions for attention deficit hyperactivity disorder dropped for the ninth straight year, with just 72 exemptions in 2022.

Overall, the league issued six suspensions in 2022 for performance-enhancing substances: three for Boldenone (outfielder/first baseman Danny Santana, pitcher Richard Rodriguez and infielder Jose Rondon, all free agents, for 80 games apiece); one each for Clomiphene (Milwaukee catcher Pedro Severino for 80 games), Clostebol (San Diego shortstop Fernando Tatis Jr. for 80 games) and Stanozolol (Milwaukee pitcher J.C. Mejia for 80 games).

There was an additional positive test for the banned stimulant Clobenzorex. A first positive test for a banned stimulant results in follow-up testing with no suspension.