Phillies right-hander Steve Geltz received a 100-game suspension without pay after failing his third test for a “drug of abuse,” USA Today’s Bob Nightengale reported Saturday. Geltz signed a minor league pact with the Phillies last month and was expected to provide bullpen depth for the club this season.
The 30-year-old righty was last seen in the majors with the 2016 Rays, when he posted a career-worst 5.74 ERA and -0.8 fWAR in 27 relief appearances. He spent the entirety of his 2017 season with the Dodgers’ Triple-A affiliate and turned in a respectable 2.67 ERA, 4.0 BB/9 and 9.7 SO/9 over 27 innings. Until this weekend, he had not violated the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program since May 2014, when he was suspended 50 games following a second positive test for recreational marijuana use.
Geltz wasn’t the only one who got in hot water this weekend. Rays minor league catcher Nick Ciuffo, Padres minor league right-hander Alex Cunningham and Pirates minor league second baseman Mitchell Tolman each received 50-game suspensions without pay after testing positive for drugs of abuse. It marked the second such violation for Ciuffo and Tolman.
Bryce Harper, who said he was tired after taking his cuts in the first round, certainly appeared gassed in the final round. So, too, did his dad, who was throwing to him. But Harper caught fire, going on a tear and tying Kyle Schwarber with 18 home runs before time expired in the final round of the 2018 Home Run Derby. Harper unlocked 30 seconds of bonus time by hitting two home runs at least 440 feet. With his second swing in bonus time, Harper homered to straightaway center field for No. 19. He tossed his bat in celebration, grabbed his trophy, then gave it to his dad before he was mobbed on the field by his All-Star teammates.
Harper hit 13 home runs in the first round, eliminating Freddie Freeman and advancing to the semifinals. In the semis, Harper topped Max Muncy 13-12 to advance to the finals. On Schwarber’s side of the bracket, he bested Alex Bregman 16-15, then defeated Rhys Hoskins 21-20.
Harper is the first member of the Nationals (or Expos) to win the Home Run Derby. Harper participated in the 2013 Derby but finished in second place behind Yoenis Céspedes. Harper is also the first left-handed hitter to win the Derby since Prince Fielder in 2012. The only players to win the Derby in their home park are Todd Frazier in 2015 and Ryne Sandberg in 1990.
As a spectator, the 2018 Home Run Derby was tons of fun. The four-minute clock adds a lot of tension and intrigue even to the initial rounds. Seeing teammates cheer and get excited for their teammates in the Derby is really fun. Of course, watching dinger after dinger is cool, too. Can’t wait for next year.