The new PED evidence is sexy, but they can’t void A-Rod’s contract, and probably can’t even suspend him. Yet.

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UPDATE:  I missed this on my first reading of the JDA, but Section G provides for suspensions by the Commissioner for “just cause.”

A Player may be subjected to disciplinary action for just cause by the
Commissioner for any Player violation of Section 2 above not referenced in Section 7.A
through 7.F above.

The question, then, is what constitutes “just cause.” While I think this would give MLB some justification to attempt to move, I stand by what I said below: there would be significant pushback on whether this news report is “just cause,” and A-Rod or others would fight any action based on it alone.  This will require greater evidence and information, and likely someone — be it the players or the doctors who prescribed or someone else — to put more meat on the bones of this report.

9:35 AMThe Miami New Times story implicating A-Rod, Nelson Cruz and others with a PED clinic in Miami is big news. It sheds a lot of light on PED use by major players and the overall availability of PEDs in baseball.  The pipelines like BALCO and now Biogenesis are a pretty big deal, and they’re certainly something MLB has an interest in investigating and news organizations should have an interest in reporting.

But let’s be clear about one thing: this news should not and likely will not have any direct, immediate bearing on A-Rod or any of the other players named as far as immediate discipline.

The Joint Drug Agreement (“JDA”) provides one means and one means only for suspensions: positive drug tests.  Now, those drug tests can be scheduled or random. Or they can be instituted based on “reasonable cause.” From page 12 of the JDA:

In the event that either Party has information that gives it reasonable cause
to believe that a Player has, in the previous 12-month period, engaged in the use,
possession, sale or distribution of a Performance Enhancing Substance (including
hGH) or Stimulant, the Party shall provide the other Party, either orally or in
writing, with a description of its information (“Reasonable Cause Notification”),
and the Player will be subject to an immediate urine and/or blood specimen
collection, or a program of testing, as determined by the IPA, to commence no
later than 48 hours after the Reasonable Cause Notification was provided.

Nowhere in the JDA does it provide for suspensions or any other kind of discipline based purely on non-testing evidence like reports, tips or the like.  What’s more, there is an appeal process involved where the player subject to reasonable cause testing can dispute whether there was, in fact, reasonable cause.

As this relates to A-Rod, Nelson Cruz and the others named in the report: MLB could very well demand a drug test from them within 48 hours of learning this information (and remember we don’t know whether MLB is learning this today or knew already).  That’s it.  If I’m representing those players, though, I argue strongly that a newspaper report like this is not “reasonable cause” and make an arbitrator figure that out.  That’s how it would play out.

What will not happen is MLB summarily suspending any of these players, the Yankees voiding A-Rod’s contract or anything else.  Such steps would be outside the scope of the league or the team’s power and it would result in major litigation.

Against that backdrop, if anyone — like, say, a columnist or reporter who wants to pile on A-Rod — starts beating the “void the contract” or “suspend him for life” drum in the next couple of days, they’re full of it or they’re being emotional or they’re grandstanding and no matter which of those it is, they should not be taken seriously.

Padres set franchise record in 19-4 win over Blue Jays

Hunter Renfroe
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The Padres turned out in remarkable fashion on Saturday, following up on Friday’s 6-3 win with a decisive 19-run effort to take the series from the Blue Jays. Rookie right-hander Cal Quantrill spun six strong innings, holding Toronto to three runs and striking out nine of 22 batters, but it was the Padres’ offense that really sealed the deal.

Of the 19 runs they put up, seven landed for home runs — establishing a franchise-best record for most home runs amassed during a single game.

Wil Myers and Ian Kinsler went back-to-back for the first two homers, each coming off of an Edwin Jackson pitch in the second inning. Myers’ 351-foot blast was his eighth of the season, while Kinsler’s 382-footer marked his sixth so far this spring. Two innings later, in the fourth, Jackson once again set the table for Austin Hedges, who promptly went yard with the first grand slam of his five-year career in the majors and boosted the Padres to a six-run advantage.

The home runs came for the Blue Jays, too — Lourdes Gurriel Jr. plucked one from a bouquet of sliders in the second, while Justin Smoak collected his ninth homer on a first-pitch fastball in the fourth — but it wasn’t nearly enough to keep pace with the Padres. In the sixth, Hunter Renfroe took his turn against Derek Law and punched a two-run shot out to center field. He returned in the eighth for a second helping, sandwiching another 376-foot home run in between a solo homer from Eric Hosmer and a two-RBI knock from Myers, too.

By the time the dust settled, the Padres had gathered 19 runs on 20 hits. They finished the game just one run shy of tying their single-game record for runs scored, a feat no Padres’ lineup has replicated since their 20-7 rout of the Expos on May 19, 2001.