Michael Pineda
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Michael Pineda to serve 60-game suspension


Twins right-hander Michael Pineda received a 60-game suspension without pay on Saturday, according to an official announcement from the Office of the Commissioner. Pineda tested positive for a diuretic (and blood pressure medication) called hydrochlorothiazide, which is on MLB’s list of banned substances and known masking agents for PEDs. According to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, an arbitrator invoked the ‘mitigation provision of the drug program’ after determining that the substance had not been used as a masking agent for a performance-enhancing drug, so Pineda will only serve a 60-game suspension instead of the standard 80-game penalty applied to first offenses. Even with the reduction, however, he’s expected to miss the remainder of the regular season and will not be eligible for postseason play.

Both Pineda and the Twins organization released statements following MLB’s decision. From Pineda:

I’d like to begin with my sincere apologies to the Twins organization, the fans, my teammates, and my family for my error in judgement.

I mistakenly took a medication that was given to me by a close acquaintance, who obtained it over-the-counter and assured me it would safely help me manage my weight. I ingested a few of these pills without the consent of the Twins’ training staff. Testing revealed trace elements of a substance called Hydrochlorothiazide, which is a banned diuretic under baseball’s testing program.

This was shocking for me to hear. I never intended to cheat the system, other players, or opposing teams. While I am pleased that the arbitrator found there was clear and convincing evidence to reduce my discipline, I realize that I am ultimately responsible for what goes in my body and therefore respect the 60-game suspension that remains. I hope that I can be an example to others about how important it is to check with experts before taking any substance from an outside source.

The Twins, meanwhile, expressed their disappointment over the suspension and declined to comment further on the situation, per the protocol put in place by MLB’s Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program.

This is the first such suspension of Pineda’s major-league career to date. On the cusp of free agency in 2020, the 30-year-old hurler will finish his first campaign in Minnesota with an 11-5 record through 26 starts and a 4.01 ERA, 1.7 BB/9, 8.6 SO/9, and 2.7 fWAR through 146 innings.

Bryce Harper played some third base in an intrasquad game

Bryce Harper third base
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Phillies star outfielder Bryce Harper played some third base during Monday’s intrasquad game at Citizens Bank Park, Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia reports. Harper had been pestering manager Joe Girardi for the opportunity and the skipper finally gave in.

Girardi told Harper, “No diving. And make sure your arm is loose.” Harper had the opportunity to field one ball, a grounder to his left and he made the play perfectly.

Why put Harper at third base? Girardi said, “I think it’s important the guys have fun. I saw him a week ago taking ground balls there and I was impressed. His hands worked well out front and he threw the ball across the field well. I told him, ‘You look good there.'”

Despite the solid showing, don’t expect Harper to show up at third base in a meaningful game anytime soon. That being said, the Phillies’ second and third base situations are still not cemented. Jean Segura will likely open the season at the hot corner with Scott Kingery at second, but things could change between now and Opening Day in 10 days.

Harper, 27, is coming off a solid first season with the Phillies. He hit .260/.372/.510 with 36 doubles, 35 home runs, 114 RBI, 98 runs scored, and 15 stolen bases across 682 plate appearances. Per FanGraphs, Harper’s 4.6 Wins Above Replacement ranked 16th in the National League. For some people, those numbers weren’t nearly good enough, so the expectations remain high as Harper enters year two of his 13-year, $330 million contract.