Robinson Cano, Scott Boras shoot down PED test rumor

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Yesterday afternoon rumors began popping up all over Twitter that Robinson Cano had tested positive for PEDs and had a suspension looming.  Cano and his agent Scott Boras forcefully shot that down yesterday:

“Not at all,” Cano told The News. “There’s no test or anything.”

Cano’s agent, Scott Boras, also told The News that the rumors were baseless. He said his office had traced the allegation to a rumor that originated in the Dominican Republic, a reporter in the U.S. and a rival agent who has been saying that a prominent Latin player has been mired in baseball’s appeals process.

I have no idea what rival agent he’s referring to, but the reporter in question was Dan Tordjman of WSOC TV in Charlotte, North Carolina.  He took to Twitter yesterday and reported that Cano had tested positive and that Major League Baseball was going to make an announcement to that effect later in the day.  The catch: he didn’t actually have any information about it besides that rumor Boras mentioned and, indeed, said in his tweets that the information was “unconfirmed.” Several reporters who do cover the Yankees immediately spoke with the team or the player and found it to be baseless.

Which makes one wonder why in the hell Tordjman was reporting it.  I realize this territory is sort of tricky and the line between news and gossip is often blurry. But it strikes me as one thing to note an explosive rumor is floating around (i.e. “there are rumors that a big star has a PED test and may be suspended soon”) and another thing altogether to hear the rumor, make a specific report on it — “Cano to be suspended later today”– and all the while claiming “hey, maybe it’s not true!”  I think that when the rumor in question is about something serious and something which can impact someone’s reputation like a drug test — as opposed to say some random trade rumor — far more caution and at least some sort of confirmation from a source in question is essential.

As it was, Tordjman was actually on Twitter asking random people with no connection to the Yankees or Cano if they had heard anything more specific about it.  I’d show you the tweets now, but between yesterday and today Tordjman locked his Twitter feed.  Probably a good move on his part.

The kicker about all of this is that, given the nature of the process — a player who tests positive has an appeals process during which a few people know about it but the rest of the public does not — the ground for rumors like this is terribly fertile. Indeed, we saw a hint of this with the Melky Cabrera suspension when word of it circulated prior to the announcement.  So it’s entirely possible that, in the future, word of a positive PED test will come out like this.

If it does, however, one would hope that the people who hear it are at least trying to see if it checks out beforehand with someone in a position to know and reports it with the skepticism and caution such matters deserve.

Zack Cozart thinks the way the Rays have been using Sergio Romo is bad for baseball

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The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.

In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.

The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.

Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”

It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.

It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.