Category:MLB
Posted on: February 28, 2012 2:17 pm
 

Braun's sample collector denies tampering

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Last week Ryan Braun held a press conference to tell his side of his positive test, casting doubt and innuendo on the collector of his sample. He didn't name Dino Laurenzi Jr., but his name came out anyway shortly after Braun's press conference.

On Tuesday, Laurenzi released a statement:
On February 24th, Ryan Braun stated during his press conference that "there were a lot of things that we learned about the collector, about the collection process, about the way that the entire thing worked that made us very concerned and very suspicious about what could have actually happened." Shortly thereafter, someone who had intimate knowledge of the facts of this case released my name to the media. I am issuing this statement to set the record straight.

I am a 1983 graduate of the University of Wisconsin and have received Master Degrees from the University of North Carolina and Loyola University of Chicago. My full-time job is the director of rehabilitation services at a health care facility. In the past, I have worked as a teacher and an athletic trainer, including performing volunteer work with Olympic athletes. I am a member of both the National Athletic Trainers' Association and the Wisconsin Athletic Trainers' Association.  
   
I have been a drug collector for Comprehensive Drug Testing since 2005 and have been performing collections for Major League Baseball's Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program since that time. I have performed over 600 collections for MLB and also have performed collections for other professional sports leagues. I have performed post-season collections for MLB in four separate seasons involving five different clubs.  
   
On October 1, 2011, I collected samples from Mr. Braun and two other players. The CDT collection team for that day, in addition to me, included three chaperones and a CDT coordinator.  One of the chaperones was my son, Anthony. Chaperones do not have any role in the actual collection process, but rather escort the player to the collection area.   
   
I followed the same procedure in collecting Mr. Braun's sample as I did in the hundreds of other samples I collected under the Program. I sealed the bottles containing Mr. Braun's A and B samples with specially-numbered, tamper-resistant seals, and Mr. Braun signed a form certifying, among other things, that the specimens were capped and sealed in his presence and that the specimen identification numbers on the top of the form matched those on the seals.  

I placed the two bottles containing Mr. Braun's samples in a plastic bag and sealed the bag. I then placed the sealed bag in a standard cardboard Specimen Box which I also sealed with a tamper-resistant, correspondingly-numbered seal placed over the box opening. I then placed Mr. Braun's Specimen Box, and the Specimen Boxes containing the samples of the two other players, in a Federal Express Clinic Pack. None of the sealed Specimen Boxes identified the players. I completed my collections at Miller Park at approximately 5:00 p.m. Given the lateness of the hour that I completed my collections, there was no FedEx office located within 50 miles of Miller Park that would ship packages that day or Sunday.

Therefore, the earliest that the specimens could be shipped was Monday, October 3. In that circumstance, CDT has instructed collectors since I began in 2005 that they should safeguard the samples in their homes until FedEx is able to immediately ship the sample to the laboratory, rather than having the samples sit for one day or more at a local FedEx office. The protocol has been in place since 2005 when I started with CDT and there have been other occasions when I have had to store samples in my home for at least one day, all without incident.  

The FedEx Clinic Pack containing Mr. Braun's samples never left my custody. Consistent with CDT's instructions, I brought the FedEx Clinic Pack containing the samples to my home. Immediately upon arriving home, I placed the FedEx Clinic Pack in a Rubbermaid container in my office which is located in my basement.   My basement office is sufficiently cool to store urine samples. No one other than my wife was in my home during the period in which the samples were stored. The sealed Specimen Boxes were not removed from the FedEx Clinic Pack during the entire period in which they were in my home. On Monday, October 3, I delivered the FedEx Clinic Pack containing Mr. Braun's Specimen Box to a FedEx office for delivery to the laboratory on Tuesday, October 4. At no point did I tamper in any way with the samples. It is my understanding that the samples were received at the laboratory with all tamper-resistant seals intact. 
   
This situation has caused great emotional distress for me and my family. I have worked hard my entire life, have performed my job duties with integrity and professionalism, and have done so with respect to this matter and all other collections in which I have participated. Neither I nor members of my family will make any further public comments on this matter. I request that members of the media, and baseball fans, whatever their views on this matter, respect our privacy. And I would like to sincerely thank my family and friends for their overwhelming support through this difficult time. Any future inquiries should be directed to my attorney Boyd Johnson of Wilmer Cutler Pickering Hale and Dorr LLP.
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Posted on: February 28, 2012 1:19 pm
Edited on: February 28, 2012 1:21 pm
 

Nationals' Johnson says it's playoffs or bust

Davey JohnsonBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Nationals manager Davey Johnson is confident in his team, even if others may think the Nationals are a year or two away.

"We should make the playoffs," Johnson told CSN's Kelli Johnson (via the Washington Post). "There's no doubt in my mind."

The TV reporter asked Johnson if he'd consider this season a failure if the Nationals didn't make the playoffs.

"No question in my mind," Johnson said. "And they can fire me."

The 69-year-old Johnson took over the Nationals last June and went 40-43 in his 83 games of the season.

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Posted on: February 28, 2012 11:34 am
Edited on: February 28, 2012 12:02 pm
 

Guillen's one rule: be on time for the anthem

Ozzie Guillen

By C. Trent Rosecrans


There's been a lot of talk about rules in the last couple of days in response to Bobby Valentine's new rule banning alcohol in the clubhouse. The Marlins don't have such a rule.

New Marlins manager Ozzie Guillen went on a rant -- a rant that could only come from Guillen -- about his one rule: be on time for the National Anthem.

Here's part of what he said, from Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post:
"I don’t care if you go there buck-naked with your pants (bleeping) down your ass, your hair down to your legs. Just win games. When you win games you look cool. When you lose games, you look dirty," Guillen said.

"Be on time and play the game right – that's my rule. It should be that way. If you're late, you better give me a good excuse…

"You're late for the (bleeping) National Anthem? The National Anthem is (bleeping) 10 minutes before the game starts. We're going to start in 10 minutes and you're late?"
"A lot of people have been kllled to make this country free for us. You should be there for at least two minutes," he said.

"Respect that, especially if you come from another (darn) country, you should be there an hour before…

"I think it looks good for baseball when you are in the stands and you see the team respect the National Anthem," he said.

"Kids can see that, the respect."
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Posted on: February 28, 2012 10:27 am
Edited on: February 28, 2012 11:04 am
 

Astros name Brett Myers their closer

Brett Myers

By C. Trent Rosecrans


The Astros' search for a closer has led them to their own rotation. Brett Myers, Houston's opening-day starter a season ago, will close this season, manager Brad Mills told reporters on Tuesday.

Houston Astros
Myers has been a starter in all but one of his 10 years in the majors, closing for the Phillies in 2007. Last year he was 7-14 with a 4.46 ERA in 34 games, 33 of those starts. In 2007, he had 21 saves after moving from the team's opening-day starter to the back of its bullpen. He had a 4.33 ERA overall that season, but had a 2.87 ERA in 48 appearances as a reliever.

The team approached Myers about the switch after he reported to camp. Houston signed Lian Hernandez and Zach Duke to minor-league deals in the offseason to join the rotation with Wandy Rodriguez, Bud Norris and J.A. Happ. The team also has Jordan Lyles, Lucas Harrell, Henry Sosa and Kyle Weiland competing for a starting spot.

"From my standpoint, we have some depth in the rotatiton between Duke, Livan, Happ, Sosa and Harrell and all the young guys," Luhnow told reporters, including Brian McTaggert of MLB.com. "We feel like we're in pretty good shape there and have some choices. We felt like we were a little exposed in the bullpen and having a guy who's been successful in that role and who's got the mentality and stuff to do well takes the pressure off of Brandon Lyon coming off an injury and doesn't put pressure on young kids like David Carpenter and Wilton Lopez."

Lyon started the season as the team's closer last season, but was injured early in the season. Mark Melancon took over, picking up 20 saves. The Astros traded Melancon to the Red Sox for infielder Jed Lowrie and Weiland in December.

Myers, 31, is in the second year of a two-year deal paying him $11 million this season. The Astros have a $10 million club option (with a $3 million buyout) for 2013 that vests based on his number of starts. According to Zachary Levine of the Houston Chronicle (via Twitter), the team has adjusted Myers' option in accordance to his new role.

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Posted on: February 27, 2012 10:03 pm
Edited on: February 29, 2012 12:33 pm
 

Spring primer: Washington Nationals



By Matt Snyder


The Washington Nationals have never had a winning record. They finished 81-81 in 2005 but came in last. Then they dipped all the way down to consecutive 59-win seasons before winning 69 in 2010 and going 80-81 last season. So is 2012 the time for the first Nationals winning season -- and possibly more? Unfortunately for the Nats, they play in one of the toughest divisions in baseball. Fortunately for the Nats, they are improved from last season's third-place team.

Danny Knobler's camp report: Harper decision might make all the difference | Likes, dislikes

Major additions: LHP Gio Gonzalez, RHP Edwin Jackson, RHP Brad Lidge
Major departures: OF Layne Nix, RHP Livan Hernandez, RHP Todd Coffey

Probable lineup
1. Ian Desmond, SS
2. Jayson Werth, RF
3. Ryan Zimmerman, 3B
4. Michael Morse, LF
5. Adam LaRoche, 1B
6. Danny Espinosa, 2B
7. Wilson Ramos, C
8. Roger Bernadina, CF

Probable rotation
1. Stephen Strasburg
2. Gio Gonzalez
3. Jordan Zimmerman
4. Edwin Jackson
5. Chien-Ming Wang

John Lannan is also a possibility as the fifth starter, and remember Strasburg is on a 160-inning limit this season.

Back-end bullpen
Closer: Drew Storen
Set-up: Tyler Clippard, Brad Lidge

Important bench players

C Jesus Flores, IF/OF Mark DeRosa, OF Rick Ankiel

Prospect to watch
C'mon. You know who. We've all been watching Bryce Harper since he was about 15, and from everything said in camp it sounds like 2012 is the year we see him in the majors. Will he break camp with the club? Only if they're ready to play him everyday, which means Werth is shoved to center. I believe the Nationals would have to be 100 percent convinced Harper was ready to star right now, otherwise there's no reason to do so -- especially since the defense would suffer as a result. More likely, an injury or underperformance opens the door sometime in May or June. Regardless, scouts collectively believe Harper is an elite-level superstar when he does stick in the majors. Anthony Rendon bears watching as well, but not to the extent of Harper.

Fantasy breakout: Jordan Zimmermann
"One could argue that in his first full season back from Tommy John surgery Zimmermann had already broken out. Last year the 25-year-old posted a 3.18 ERA and 1.15 WHIP and only an innings limit kept him from being a top 40 starting pitcher. This season, Zimmermann won't be curtailed in terms of his workload, and better yet, there is room for him to perform better even on a per-inning basis. He averaged slightly less than seven strikeouts per nine innings in 2011, not meeting the standard he set prior to his surgery but he started to miss a lot more bats over his final 10 starts. Over that span, Zimmermann got to strike three 53 times in 58 2/3 innings. With more innings and a higher K-rate likely this season, look for Zimmermann to emerge as a No. 3 starting pitcher in mixed leagues." - Al Melchior [Full Nationals fantasy team preview]

Fantasy bust Jayson Werth
"Leaving a homer-friendly ballpark in Philadelphia behind, many expected Werth to have a down year in 2011, but the worst may be yet to come. Park factors may have worked against Werth with his move to Washington but even before he signed with the Nationals he was facing a steady decline in his home run per flyball ratio. While Werth's home run power seems to be evaporating the 46 doubles he hit in 2010 was merely an outlier as he has never hit more than 26 in a season barring that one year." - Al Melchior [Full Nationals fantasy team preview]

Optimistic outlook
Every player plays like he's capable and the Nationals don't have a major weakness. The offense has the potential to be strong top-to-bottom, with great starting pitching -- Edwin Jackson proving to be the best No. 4 in the league -- and a lock-down back-end of the bullpen. If everything comes together like it can, the Nationals would make the playoffs. They may not be able to win the toughest division in the National League, but with a possibility of two wild cards on the table -- seriously, Bud, how long until this is decided?!? -- there's certainly no reason to count out the Nats.

Pessimistic outlook
While there are good hitters in the lineup, the lack of an elite slugger in addition to a hole in center field holds the offense back. Werth's struggles bleed into 2012, Zimmerman again can't stay healthy and the pitching staff is plagued by Gonzalez's control issues and Jackson's inconsistency -- not to mention Strasburg's inning limit. Playing in the mighty NL East, the Nationals come in fourth or even last, with the Mets surprising and jumping over them.

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Posted on: February 27, 2012 8:54 pm
Edited on: February 27, 2012 9:01 pm
 

Scott Sizemore out for season with torn ACL

By Matt Snyder

The Oakland Athletics have suffered a big blow to their prospective infield. The club announced Monday night that third baseman Scott Sizemore will miss the entire season, as he's torn the ACL in his left knee. Due to swelling in the knee, Sizemore will be re-evaluated in two weeks to see if a surgery date can then be set.

“I really feel badly for Scott,” manager Bob Melvin said in a release. “He’s worked extremely hard and was ready for a breakout season this year. We were counting on him to provide some much-needed power from the right side of the plate. Now his total focus has to be on a successful surgery and rehabilitation so he can return stronger than ever. In his absence, we feel we have some viable options in Adam Rosales, Eric Sogard and Josh Donaldson. They can all bring something to the position.”

Obviously, season-ending injuries to starters are always big blows, but the A's could have better handled it to an outfielder, where they have Coco Crisp, Josh Reddick, Yoenis Cespedes, Jonny Gomes, Brandon Allen, Collin Cowgill and several others. At third base, the A's were paper thin before this injury.

Melvin mentioned three options, but none are good ones.

Rosales is a 28-year-old utility infielder who logged just 43 innings at third last season. Worse yet, he hit just .098/.162/.197 and is a career .226 hitter who doesn't walk much or have power.

Sogard, 25, hit .200/.243/.329 in 74 plate appearances for the A's last season. He played just 70 innings at third. He's a career .298 hitter against Triple-A pitching with marginal power at best.

Donaldson is a 26-year-old catcher-by-trade, but appeared in 27 games at third in Triple-A last season -- where he hit .261/.344/.439 with 17 homers in 503 plate appearances.

Otherwise, the A's are left scraping the bottom of the barrel -- if they aren't already doing so with Rosales, Sogard or Donaldson -- or searching outside the organization.

Sizemore, 27, hit .249/.345/.433 with 11 homers and 52 RBI for the A's in 93 games after coming over in a late May trade from Detroit.

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Posted on: February 27, 2012 8:02 pm
 

Yadier Molina close to long-term extension



By Matt Snyder


It appears Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina will not hit free agency the way his friend Albert Pujols did this past winter. The All-Star catcher is close to a long-term extension with the Cardinals, CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman reports.

Molina had a one-year, $7 million option exercised for this coming season and he was due to become a free agent after '12. If he signs a long-term contract, the 29-year-old backstop will end up being a Cardinal for the overwhelming majority of his career.

Molina hit .305/.349/.465 with 14 homers, 65 RBI and 55 runs last season for the Cardinals in easily the best offensive season of his career. He established career highs in runs, hits, doubles, home runs, RBI, average and slugging percentage. He also won his fourth straight Gold Glove and helped guide an Adam Wainwright-less pitching staff to a World Series championship -- giving Molina his second ring, just as all three of the Molina brothers have. Yadier, the youngest Molina, was integral to the offense in the playoffs, too, hitting .333 in both the NLCS and World Series with a whopping nine RBI in the World Series.

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Posted on: February 27, 2012 7:13 pm
 

Royals sign Salvador Perez to long-term contract



By Matt Snyder


Royals general manager Dayton Moore has taken a page out of the Andrew Friedman playbook. Monday evening, the Royals announced that they have agreed to a five-year contract, that also has three club options, with young catcher Salvador Perez. That means that the Royals effectively have control over keeping Perez through the 2019 season.

Perez, 21, hit .331/.361/.473 with three homers, 21 RBI and 20 runs in his 39 games for the Royals last season. He began the season as a highly-touted prospect in Double-A, where he spent 79 games. He played in just 12 Triple-A games before getting his call to the bigs, where he spent the last six weeks of the season.

Like Friedman's masterpiece deals with Evan Longoria and Matt Moore in Tampa Bay, the risk for the Royals is minimal. If Perez hits all his incentives and the Royals pick up every option, Perez will make just $26.75 million, reports Bob Dutton of the Kansas City Star. And if the Royals do pick up all three club options, one would expect Perez is playing at a level higher than just over $3 million per season.

Obviously, we can't paint Perez as the victim, either. This is a mutually beneficial deal. What if Perez flames out and never meets his potential? What if a series of injuries ends his career? Wel, the base of the contract is $7 million (per Dutton), money Perez would never sniff if not signing this deal.

Perez is part of an excellent young core of players the Royals hope will get them in pennant contention for the next several seasons. Along with Perez, Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas and Johnny Giavotella lead the movement for position players, complementing still-young veterans like Alex Gordon and Billy Butler.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com