Former Cy Young winner takes powerful drug to aid his performance, no one cares

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What if I were to tell you that there was a former Cy Young winner who was taking a controversial and powerful drug?

A drug that could prove dangerous to him in the long run and has been linked to organ damage? A drug that other players who have used it say gives them a feeling of invulnerability? A drug that experts are wary of for athletes because its long term effects when taken regularly aren’t known? A drug that is injected into the buttocks. A drug that, despite all of this, the player uses because it helps him recover from injury, soreness and fatigue and helps him get back on the field?

Why, I hope you would say nothing, because as David Lennon of Newsday reports, it’s totally OK in Major League Baseball:

When Johan Santana said last week that he received an injection of Toradol, a powerful anti-inflammatory medication, to stay on schedule for his Opening Day start, it hardly raised eyebrows in the clubhouse.

The reason? Santana is not the only one to benefit from the drug, and its use is more common than people might think.

There is not some logical bright line between what is a horrible, terrible PED and what is an acceptable drug in the world of sports. We like to pretend there is, but really, there isn’t. The biggest difference is that some are on a banned list and some are not, and that Santana and others use Toradol under a physicians care and guys who take banned drugs don’t.

Ultimately, these drugs are allowing players to do what their body would not naturally allow them to do. Here, it’s ignoring pain that could keep them from playing or certainly playing well.  With other drugs, it’s recovering from injury faster (HGH) or hitting a ball farther than they otherwise might (steroids). Either way, their performance is enhanced. Their natural state is altered by pharmaceuticals.

It would be awesome if we could approach some of the banned PEDs in this way and determine whether they present acceptable risks. Whether they serve a valuable purpose that, under a doctor’s care, don’t raise serious ethical concerns.  But we just don’t roll that way in professional sports these days.

Giants nearing deal with Cameron Maybin

Cameron Maybin
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The Giants are finalizing a minor league deal for free agent outfielder Cameron Maybin, according to Andrew Baggarly and Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic. The team has not confirmed the signing, but it’s in keeping with their stated goal of adding more veteran presence and outfield options to their roster in advance of the 2019 season.

Maybin, 31, appeared in back-to-back gigs with the Marlins and Mariners in 2018. He slashed an underwhelming .249/.326/.336 with four home runs, 10 stolen bases (in 15 chances), a .662 OPS, and 0.5 fWAR through 384 plate appearances for the two clubs, a clear improvement over his totals in 2017 but still shy of the career numbers he posted with the Padres all the way back in 2011. It’s not only his offense that has tanked, but his speed and defense in center field, all of which he’ll try to improve as he jockeys for a roster spot in camp this month.

The Giants’ outfield has been largely depleted of any kind of consistent talent lately, especially taking into account the recent departures of Hunter Pence, Gregor Blanco, and Gorkys Hernández. Even with the acquisition of, say, All-Star right fielder Bryce Harper, there’s nothing standing in the way of Maybin and fellow veteran signee Gerardo Parra grabbing hold of full- or part-time roles this year, though they’ll need to outperform candidates like Chris Shaw, Steven Duggar, Drew Ferguson, Mac Williamson, Austin Slater, Craig Gentry, Mike Gerber, and others first.

In a previous report on Friday, Baggarly revealed that a “handshake understanding” had been established with several veteran players already this offseason, all but guaranteeing them regular starting opportunities over the course of the season. How those agreements will be affected by spring training performances remains to be seen, but at least for now, the Giants appear prepared to give their newest players a long leash as they try to get back on top in the NL West.