Josh Hamilton’s teammates say he’s in great shape and ready to play

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The Angels are in Houston to play the Astros this weekend. Technically, Josh Hamilton is still a member of the Angels, even if the club is acting like he isn’t. Hamilton has met with manager Mike Scioscia and some of his Angels teammates. They are telling remarkably different stories about the condition Josh Hamilton’s condition is in.

Last night Alden Gonzalez of MLB.com reported that Mike Scioscia voiced concern over Hamilton, saying that there was “no clarity that [Hamilton is] getting the help he needs,” and that “[t]hat’s a major concern.”

Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports, however, that his teammates think Hamilton is in great shape. They say he’s recovered from both his shoulder surgery and whatever substance abuse issues he had. David Freese said that  “from what I hear and what I see, he’s kind of ready to go . . . He’s running, he’s hitting, he’s ready to go physically. He’s doing the things he needs to do to play baseball and taking the necessary steps off the field.” C.J. Wilson goes much further than that. Heck, he sounds like Hamilton’s lawyer or agent or something.

This is significant because, as been reported, owner Arte Moreno thinks he can either claw back money from Hamilton or void his deal altogether due to clauses in Hamilton’s contract. DiGiovanna reports that one possible clause relates to Hamilton not being in “first-class condition” because of substance abuse. Wilson and Freese’s comments make that sound like a hard, hard sell.

There are two sides to every story. Every contract has stuff even the people who have looked it over didn’t notice. All manner of things could be going on in the background which you, I, or anyone else not there, on the ground can know. But I’ll say this much: there has been nothing about this story whatsoever to date which makes Arte Moreno and the Angels’ stance regarding Hamilton seem reasonable. Not a single damn thing.

Report: Some MLB teams using outside labs for COVID-19 testing

MLB COVID-19 testing
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The Athletic’s Ken Rosenthal and Zach Buchanan report that the Diamondbacks are one of several teams that have used labs other than the Sports Medicine Research and Testing Laboratory in Utah to process COVID-19 testing. MLB has encountered delays with its testing, despite promising 24-hour turnaround time, so teams have tried other avenues — with the league’s endorsement — in order to get faster results.

The SMRTL had processed performance-enhancing drug screenings for MLB. The league converted it to process COVID-19 tests amid concerns that having a season and all of the testing that would be required throughout would take away testing resources from the general public. That some teams are utilizing labs other than the SMRTL suggests the league, indeed, is usurping those resources.

In prospect Seth Beer’s case, he tested positive for COVID-19. He needed to test negative twice consecutively to be cleared to return to play. Beer went to a third-party site in the Phoenix area. He received his second negative test and was cleared to return on July 9.

The Diamondbacks said that the labs they have used have assured them that they are not taking away tests from the public. That seems like a claim MLB and the D-Backs should demonstrably prove. Per Rosenthal and Buchahan, the D-Backs have gone to an outside lab about 20 times, which accounts for less than one percent of COVID-19 tests taken by players and staff. Still, those are 20 tests that could have been used by the general public. And if the D-Backs and a handful of other teams already are using outside labs, then the rest of the league likely already is or soon will be doing the same. In the end, there will be a lot more than 20 tests taken at outside labs by MLB players and staff. Considering that “Tier 1” players will be tested every other day throughout the season, the total of third-party tests taken — if things continue the way they are now — could easily reach into the thousands by the end of October.

We all want baseball back, but the players, coaches, and all other staff are no more important than cashiers, teachers, and delivery drivers, so they shouldn’t have more access to COVID-19 testing simply by virtue of being associated with Major League Baseball and all of its influence and financial muscle. It would be unethical for MLB to be cutting in line ahead of other people who need testing just as much as if not more than the players.