Marlon Byrd suspended for PEDs

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This is bigger than your normal PED suspension:

The Office of the Commissioner of Baseball announced today that outfielder Marlon Byrd has received a 50-game suspension after testing positive for Tamoxifen, a performance-enhancing substance, in violation of Major League Baseball’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.

Byrd, a free agent, will be on the restricted list until August 20.

This is notable for more than the fact that Byrd is a bigger name than you usually see on the suspension list. Byrd has quite famously trained with former BALCO figure Victor Conte, who has claimed for years to have seen the light and to only work with legal and non-banned substances. It has led to much talk about Byrd being somewhat reckless in his choice of trainer and has caused many to speculate that Byrd was under closer scrutiny by the league due to his association with Conte.

Whether Byrd got the substance from Conte or whether it was an intentional thing or a situation of something being adulterated is not known.  But it’s certainly going to lead to more than just this suspension. Someone — likely Conte — is gonna have some stuff to say pretty soon, I’d wager.

UPDATE: The drug Byrd tested positive for — Tamoxifen — is an estrogen blocker, not a PED itself. It’s on the banned list, however, because it’s used by people who take steroids to mitigate the side-effects.

Bob Nightengale reports that Byrd has issued a statement regarding his positive test, apologizing, but saying that the drug was used for “a reoccurrence of private surgery he had years ago.” This echoes the statements of others who have been caught using estrogen blockers, most of whom have said it was for medical issues.

Tigers sign Josh Thole to minors deal

Josh Thole
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The Tigers signed catcher Josh Thole to a minor league deal, per an announcement from the Double-A Erie SeaWolves on Friday. Thole is expected to report to Double-A Erie, where he’ll split time with starting catcher Jake Rogers.

Thole, 31, has not appeared in a major or minor league game since 2016. He signed a minors deal with the Diamondbacks back in 2017, but was sidelined through most of the season after undergoing hamstring surgery in April. He was released by the team during spring training and failed to catch on with another major league club through the first two months of the 2018 season.

While the veteran backstop hasn’t tested his skills in pro ball for several years now, he held his own during a short-lived run with the independent New Britain Bees of the Atlantic League. Over 17 games in 2018, Thole batted .317/.425/.367 with three extra-base hits and a .791 OPS in 75 plate appearances. He’s expected to serve as catching depth within the Tigers’ organization, but may yet work his way back to the majors if he can get his average back over the Mendoza Line again — a feat he hasn’t managed since 2015.