Clinic records suggest Alex Rodriguez purchased HGH as recently as 2012; other players named

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Over the weekend news broke that MLB and the Drug Enforcement Administration were investigating a clinic in Miami run by Anthony Bosch, a noted friend, adviser and consultant to many baseball players.  Bosch’s clinic has long been associated with so-called anti-aging therapies and he has long been associated with PEDs.  MLB reached out to the DEA because it does not have subpoena power and is interested in getting to the bottom of Bosch’s association with ballplayers.

Now a blockbuster report from the Miami New Times, which has been given patient records by an anonymous source, suggests that A-Rod and other ballplayers were, in fact, given HGH by Bosch. In A-Rod’s case as late as last year, long after he claimed that he had ceased using PEDs:

Yet there was his name, over and over again, logged as either “Alex Rodriguez,” “Alex Rod,” or his nickname at the clinic, “Cacique,” a pre-Columbian Caribbean chief. Rodriguez’s name appears 16 times throughout the records New Times reviewed.

Take, for instance, one patient list from Bosch’s 2009 personal notebook. It charts more than 50 clients and notes whether they received their drugs by delivery or in the office, how much they paid, and what they were taking.

There, at number seven on the list, is Alex Rodriguez. He paid $3,500, Bosch notes. Below that, he writes, “1.5/1.5 HGH (sports perf.) creams test., glut., MIC, supplement, sports perf. Diet.” HGH, of course, is banned in baseball, as are testosterone creams.

The New Times details multiple other records of banned substances, under either Rodriguez’s name or under his cousin Yuri Sucart. These include HGH, IGF-1, which stimulates muscle growth and is also banned and something called “troches,” which is a lozenge which releases testosterone.  But there is evidence of more recent use as well:

The mentions of Rodriguez begin in 2009 and continue all the way through last season. Take a page in another notebook, which is labeled “2012” and looks to have been written last spring. Under the heading “A-Rod/Cacique,” Bosch writes, “He is paid through April 30th. He will owe May 1 $4,000… I need to see him between April 13-19, deliver troches, pink cream, and… May meds. Has three weeks of Sub-Q (as of April).”

The New Times describes Sub-Q as a “mixture of HGH, IGF-1, and other drugs.”

Also mentioned in the records are Melky Cabrera, Yasmani Grandal and Bartolo Colon, all of whom have tested positive for PEDs in the past year.  One additional mention — a player never before linked with PEDs — is Nelson Cruz.  Gio Gonzalez is mentioned as well, but the records seem less definitive and may be connected to his father, who is quoted in the story.

The New Times attempted to get comment from all of the athletes named in the story. None responded.  Since the report was released, both Alex Rodriguez and Gio Gonzalez have issued statements.  Rodriguez’s statement, first reported by Joel Sherman of the New York Post:

“The news report about a purported relationship between Alex Rodriguez and Anthony Bosch are not true. Alex Rodriguez was not Mr. Bosch’s patient, he was never treated by him and he was never advised by him. The purported documents referenced in the story — at least as they relate to Alex Rodriguez — are not legitimate.”

Gonzalez’s statement:

“I’ve never used performance-enhancing drugs of any kind, and I never will. I’ve never met or spoken with Tony Bosch or used any substances provided by him. Anything said to the contrary is a lie.”

Major League Baseball has also issued a statement:

“We are always extremely disappointed to learn of potential links between players and the use of performance-enhancing substances.  These developments, however, provide evidence of the comprehensive nature of our anti-drug efforts.  Through our Department of Investigations, we have been actively involved in the issues in South Florida.  It is also important to note that three of the players allegedly involved have already been disciplined under the Joint Drug Program.

“The recommendations of the Mitchell Report have once again played a critical role in Major League Baseball’s ongoing efforts against performance-enhancing drugs.  MLB implemented all of the recommendations made by Senator Mitchell in 2007, several of which emphasized the significance of installing proactive investigative services.

“The establishment of our Department of Investigations has represented a critical advance in these comprehensive efforts.  In the years since its formation, DOI’s work has proven pivotal to bringing to light information regarding the use of performance-enhancing substances.  Furthermore, DOI has built strong working relationships with federal and local law enforcement authorities.  These relationships are crucial because only law enforcement officials have the capacity to reach those outside the game who are involved in the distribution of illegal performance-enhancing drugs.

“Vigilance remains the key toward protecting the integrity of our game.  We have the best and most stringent drug testing policy in professional sports, we continue to work with our doctors and trainers to learn what they are seeing day-to-day and we educate our players about the game’s unbending zero-tolerance approach.  We remain fully committed to following all leads and seeking the appropriate outcomes for all those who use, purchase and are involved in the distribution of banned substances, which have no place in our game.

“We are in the midst of an active investigation and are gathering and reviewing information.  We will refrain from further comment until this process is complete.”

This is a major, major story.  We have the east coast BALCO on our hands here.

Keep updating HardballTalk for the latest on this story and for our own unique analysis. Including Major League Baseball’s potential recourse against the named players and the likelihood that the Yankees could sue Alex Rodriguez to void his contract, which still has $114 million remaining.

Replay review over base-keeping needs to go

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The Red Sox are off and running in the first inning of Game 1 of the World Series against the Dodgers. Andrew Benintendi and J.D. Martinez each hit RBI singles off of Clayton Kershaw to give the Red Sox an early 2-0 lead.

Benintendi’s hit to right field ended with a replay review. Rather than throw to the cutoff man, right fielder Yasiel Puig fired home to try nabbing Mookie Betts, but his throw was poor. Catcher Austin Barnes caught the ball a few feet in front of and to the right of home plate, then whipped the ball to second base in an attempt to get Benintendi. Benintendi clearly beat the throw, but shortstop Manny Machado kept the tag applied. After Benintendi was ruled safe, the Dodgers challenged, arguing that Benintendi’s hand may have come off the second base bag for a microsecond while Machado’s glove was on him. The ruling on the field was upheld and the Red Sox continued to rally.

Replay review over base-keeping is not in the spirit of the rule and shouldn’t be permitted. Hopefully Major League Baseball considers changing the rule in the offseason. Besides the oftentimes uncontrollable minute infractions, these kinds of replay reviews slow the game down more than other types of reviews because they tend not to be as obvious as other situations.

Baseball has become so technical and rigid that it seems foolish to leave gray area in this regard. A runner is either off the base or he isn’t. However, the gradual result of enforcing these “runner’s hand came off the base for a fraction of a second” situations is runners running less aggressively and sliding less often so there’s no potential of them losing control of their body around the base. Base running, particularly the aggressive, sliding variety, is quietly one of the most fun aspects of the game. Policing the game to this degree, then, serves to make the game less fun and exciting.

Where does one draw the line then? To quote Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, describing obscenity in Jacobellis v. Ohio, “I know it when I see it.” This is one area where I am comfortable giving the umpires freedom to enforce the rule at their discretion and making these situations impermissible for replay review.