Tag:Twins
Posted on: August 22, 2011 9:35 am
 

Pepper: Pirates send small message with Tabata



By Matt Snyder


The Pirates announced Sunday that they agreed to terms with outfielder Jose Tabata. He'll be paid $14 million over the next six seasons, with options that could keep Tabata in Pittsburgh through 2019 (Associated Press). The deal buys out the remaining three years of arbitration, but that's not the important part -- which is that the Pirates made a long-term commitment to a young player.

Tabata, 23, has a .356 on-base percentage with 15 stolen bases and 44 runs this year in 75 games, serving mostly as the leadoff man.

He is certainly no Andrew McCutchen and he's been signed for a pretty cheap deal, but the signal is the same as it was when the Pirates were buyers at the trade deadline: These Pirates aren't a laughing matter anymore. No longer is ownership content to simply be a virtual Triple-A team, developing players only to have them traded or leave via free agency. When they lock up McCutchen, which I fully expect, the signal will be even louder. Granted, the Pirates will never be a large-market spender, but the increased attendance this season shows the fans are still there, should the team become a legitimate contender. Expect the Tabata deal to be the first of several.

Strasburg Watch: Nationals ace Stephen Strasburg will make his fourth rehab start Monday. He'll pitch for Class-A Hagerstown again, where he was shelled last time out. He was dominant in his first two outings, however, so Monday will be a good gauge to see if that was simply an off-day. He's going to be working toward four innings and 65 pitches (Nationals Journal). That's a huge sign, because from 65 pitches, a lot of pitchers jump to 80 next time. Presumably, 80 pitches is enough to get back to the bigs. Strasburg is scheduled to have a fifth rehab start August 27, but if everything goes well in these next two outings, that's likely all he'll need before joining the Nats.

Joe on A.J.: Yankees manager Joe Girardi and struggling starting pitcher A.J. Burnett appeared to exchange some pretty heated words Saturday night, but both Girardi and Burnett said the issue was Burnett's anger at the home plate umpire. Girardi reiterated that sentiment Sunday, but also noted Burnett is on shaky ground due to his pitching performance. "The reality is he needs to pitch better," Girardi said (New York Times baseball blog).

Pronk injured: Indians designated hitter Travis Hafner broke an 0-for-16 slump with a single late in Sunday's game, but when he rounded first base, he pulled up lame and limped his way to getting tagged out and back to the dugout. He has a right foot strain, which is a similar injury to one that kept him out for five games earlier in the season (MLB.com).

Time for revenge: It's been a while since the Rangers and Red Sox played. In fact, it was the first series of the season. Many of us may have forgotten the Rangers kicked the Red Sox teeth in for three games, sweeping them and outscoring them 26-11 in three games. It's the only team the Red Sox have played this season and not beaten. Reliever Daniel Bard certainly hasn't forgotten, though, as he said "we owe them something for the first series of the year," Sunday (BostonHerald.com). The two teams square off for a four-game series in Texas, beginning Monday.

Winded Grandyman: Yankees center fielder Curtis Granderson hit an inside-the-park home run at Minnesota Sunday, and he was a bit tired after the trip around the bases. “It was good until everyone wanted to talk,” Granderson said (LoHud). ” As we’re coming in, everyone was asking about it, and I couldn’t really talk too much.”

Action Jackson: Tigers center fielder Austin Jackson ended Sunday's game by throwing out the would-be tying run at home plate. A game-ending double play scored 8-2 hasn't happened since 1988 when Pirates center fielder Andy Van Slyke pulled it off, according to Baseball-Reference.com.

Swarzak in, Blackburn out: Twins starting pitcher Nick Blackburn injured his right forearm early in his start against the Yankees Sunday, and it looks like he's headed for the disabled list, as the Twins have already named a replacement in the rotation. Anthony Swarzak will get the spot (Around the Majors). Swarzak is 2-2 with a 3.16 ERA and 1.05 WHIP in five starts this season.

Love for Hendry: Recently-fired Cubs (former) general manager Jim Hendry has been beaten down pretty good in terms of fans, message boards, Twitter, etc. But you rarely hear anything bad about him as a person from his own players, media who know him personally or even opposing players. Former Cubs shorstop Ryan Theriot -- who Hendry traded last season -- joins in, calling Hendry a good person who has a good heart (Chicago Tribune).

Leyland tossed again: Tigers manager Jim Leyland had a pretty nice ejection Sunday, marking the fifth time in the past two months he's been run. The Detroit Free-Press has a list of the five ejections.

On this date: Mark McGwire made his big-league debut 25 years ago today. (Hardball Times)

Oh, Nails: Former Phillies and Mets outfielder Lenny Dykstra is currently serving time in prison because he filed for bankruptcy and then tried to sell off part of his estate for profit -- which is otherwise known as embezzlement -- and was also accused of lying under oath and trying to hide some of his assets from the bankruptcy court. Apparently, however, Lenny doesn't believe the law applies to him because he was good in the 1993 World Series. Seriously: Read his post by clicking here and let me know if I'm wrong, but I believe that's kind of his argument -- warning, the post has the grammar and spelling of an eight year old. The best part is that Dykstra is delusional enough to believe he's been targeted by a government that wants to redeem itself for the O.J. Simpson case by nailing a celebrity. I mean, you can't make this stuff up. It's amazing.

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Posted on: August 20, 2011 3:57 pm
 

Twins: Tsuyoshi Nishioka needs 'mulligan' on year

NishiokaBy Evan Brunell

When Tsuyoshi Nishioka ended up with the Twins after a successful career in Japan, the prevailing opinion was that while Nishioka wouldn't be a star, he would be a more than capable second baseman.

Well, not so much.

Nishioka broke his legs mere days into the season as the Twins' second basemen, and suffered a lengthy absence before returning as a shortstop and seeing his bat vanish. Over 217 plate appearances, the Japanese import has hit .217/.257/.241. Among batters with at least 200 plate appearances on the season, Nishioka's .218 wOBA (similar to OPS, but tweaked slightly and scaled to OBP) is third-worst in baseball behind catcher Jeff Mathis of the Angels and shortstop Reid Brignac of the Rays.

But assistant GM Rob Antony told XM Radio that Nishioka deserves a "mulligan," believing Nishioka can bounce back next season.

The switch-hitter did bat .304/.379/.443 in Japan, so there is indication that he can fare better in the majors once he gets into a groove. Nishioka needs to improve his plate discipline if he wants any hope of bouncing back, though. While he swings at pitches less than the average hitter, he's walked just 10 times on the year and has to an extent been unlucky on making contact with pitches outside the strike zone. Nishioka has connected on 82.5 percent of his swings at pitches outside the strike zone, compared with a league average of 68.2 percent. Given the pitches are out of the strike zone, it stands to reason that many of Nishioka's batted balls in such instances are simply turned into easy outs. Improving his plate discipline to lay off these pitches would allow for better pitches to come along where Nishioka could do more damage.

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Posted on: August 20, 2011 1:19 am
Edited on: August 20, 2011 1:21 am
 

3 Up, 3 Down: Madson melts down

Madson

By Evan Brunell


3 UpRussell Martin, Yankees:  Russell Martin blasted two bombs in Friday's game and seems to have hit a bit of a hot streak. Remember back in early April when Martin went off for six home runs and it looked like the Yankees had found their catcher of the future at the expense of the Dodgers? Well, from April 24 through July 31, Martin hit .200/.307/.283 in 267 plate appearances. Yuck! Lucky for him that he's hit another hot streak and has hammered five home runs on the month thus far, bringing his season total to 15. the night, Martin had three hits and three RBI.

Carlos Corporan, Astros: Coming into Friday's game, the 27-year old had appeared in 36 games this season, easily the most the catcher has tallied over his career. Prior to 2011, Corporan's only major-league time came back in 2009 when he had exactly one game for the Brewers. Hitting .177/.223/.239 over 123 plate appearances, even the most die-hard baseball fan would have had trouble remembering who Corporan was. Well, it's a bit easier to remember after Friday when the switch-hitter went 3 for 3 with two runs scored against the Giants, chipping in a double and all of a sudden lifting his season line to .198/.248/.267. This is probably the first and last time Corporan ever appears on 3 Up.

Livan Hernandez, Nationals: Hernandez, whose arm hasn't fallen off yet, came through with a superhuman effort on Friday when he returned after a rain delay aborted his outing in the first. Hernandez told reporters after the game that he threw over 300 warmup pitches. Couple that with 59 in the game, when he gave up four runs in four innings, walking two, striking out none and allowing seven hits. Not a great outing, but a great number of pitches for Hernandez, who says, "It's crazy, but I feel really good," CSNWashington.com tweets.



3 DownRyan Madson, Phillies (pictured): What an epic meltdown for Ryan Madson, who entered the ninth with a 4-2 lead, but just couldn't hold onto it all the way to giving up a walkoff grand slam to Ryan Zimmerman for a 8-4 loss. Madson gave up five hits in 2/3s of an inning, walking one and striking out one. Before Zimmerman could deliver a crushing blow into the left-field bleachers, though, Madson gave up two RBI singles to knot the game up at four apiece. And just like that, Madson's ERA soared from 2.06 to 3.25, but don't let that color your impression of Madson, who has had an excellent season. It's just his second blown save of the year against 23 saves.

Joel Hanrahan, Pirates:
With the score 6-2 after the top of the fifth, the game was pretty much in hand for Cincinnati. Except a funny thing happened the rest of the way as Pittsburgh scored six runs the rest of the way to tie the game up through eight innings, including back-to-back two-run outbursts in the seventh and eighth. Unfortunately, Joel Hanrahan didn't want to see Bill Bray or Nick Massett get singled out in 3 Down, so he promptly gave up three runs (two earned) on a walk and two hits, getting just one out before being yanked from the game. Because the game was tied, he wasn't charged with a blown save.

Kevin Slowey, Twins: Kevin Slowey hasn't been around much this season thanks to a baffling transition to the bullpen, an injury and eventual demotion to the minors. Slowey could have been a major asset to Minnesota this season but instead made his first start of the season on Friday and seventh appearance overall, last appearing in the bigs in mid-May. Slowey had to face the Yankees and predictably gave up six runs in 5 2/3 innings, striking out four while allowing 10 baserunners.

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Posted on: August 19, 2011 7:30 pm
Edited on: August 19, 2011 7:31 pm
 

Jim Thome could be traded; Phillies a fit?

ThomeBy Evan Brunell

The Phillies have been on the hunt for a pinch-hitter to help do damage off the bench down the stretch drive and into October. If all breaks well, Philadelphia will then need that pinch-hitter to DH during the Fall Classic.

That person could be Jim Thome, who had been linked to Philadelphia earlier this season along with Jason Giambi. When Thome went nowhere at the trade deadline and Giambi hit the DL, Philadelphia signed Jack Cust to a minor-league deal after being released from the Mariners, but he's only an option, not the answer.

Minneapolis Star-Tribune baseball writer LaVelle E. Neal III, via the Philadelphia Daily News, reported he's heard "indications [Twins management] would be willing to accommodate" Thome if he wanted to move to a team with a chance to play in October. Given it's entirely possible this could be Thome's final season, the slugger could ask for such a move. It wouldn't be the first time Thome's moved to the NL to come off the bench, as he agreed to play for the Dodgers down the stretch in 2009, after being moved from the White Sox. While Thome was careful to choose his words when asked about the possibility of asking for a trade, the first baseman and DH offered up all you need to know.

"When you've gone to two World Series and you haven't won it, it eats at you and that's one thing that is still there," Thome said.

Despite playing for Philadelphia for just three years before the arrival of Ryan Howard, Thome holds special importance in the city. He is very close with skipper Charlie Manuel and helped change the perception of the Phillies as a down-and-out team when he joined them as a free agent after the 2002 season.  When he was later dealt to the White Sox for a return of Aaron Rowand, Gio Gonzalez (who later fetched Freddy Garcia before the 2007 season) and a minor-leaguer, the move was credited for helping Philadelphia begin the most successful chapter in Phillies history.

It's not clear if Philadelphia will look to add Thome, but if so, it will have to happen on or before Aug. 31, the day that teams must set the pool of players they can draw from for the postseason. Of course, other teams in the postseason hunt in need of bench help could also chase Thome. The Yankees could upgrade their DH spot with Thome, while Atlanta, Milwaukee and San Francisco would love to use Thome in the same capacity Philadelphia would.

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Posted on: August 19, 2011 9:56 am
 

Pepper: Replay helps, but is hardly perfect



By C. Trent Rosecrans

See, now that's how replay's supposed to work -- maybe.

A day after the Yankees were the victim of a bad call (and worse replay) in Kansas City, the umpires in Minnesota went to the video once again for a Justin Morneau two-run homer in the first inning.

However, Twins manager Ron Gardenhire didn't agree.

"In my opinion, and this is what I told them: 'If one replay shows it could be fair and one replay shows it could be foul, and no one is really positive, how the heck do you change it?'" Gardenhire told reporters (via MLB.com). "I don't get that. They told me they saw a view on TV. But I could show three views right here where the ball disappears behind the pole. It just depends on the camera angle."

While I'm all for expanded replay, we must keep in mind it's not going to solve all of baseball's problems -- and the last two days have shown that.

Fair or foul? You be the judge (Yankees broadcast, Twins broadcast). It sure looked foul to me, but I understand the argument. It's what the NFL calls "incontrovertible visual evidence" and I'm not sure it's there. It's something to keep in mind, even with replay, humans are in charge and the chance for human error is always great, no matter what tools are at our disposal.

Hanley on hold: Marlins shortstop Hanley Ramirez may not return this season, Joe Capozzi of the Palm Beach Post speculated. Ramirez sprained his left shoulder on Aug. 2 while chasing down a fly ball. Ramirez hasn't played since. He had surgery not he same shoulder following the 2007 season.

Quade safe?: Cubs owner Tom Ricketts has been supportive of embattled manager Mike Quade and when he talks to the media during a homestand starting today, it's expected he will support his manager. [Chicago Sun-Times]

Little slugger: I wrote about Indians infielder Jack Hannahan's son the other day, but if you missed it, go here. Anyway, Louisville Slugger sent the youngest Hannahan a bat with his name, birthday and birth weight on it. A cool gesture for Johnny Hannahan, whose dad also uses Louisville Sluggers. [Cleveland Plain Dealer]

Hanson on hold: Braves right-hander Tommy Hanson won't return from the disabled list on Tuesday as previously scheduled. The Braves aren't sure when they'll get him back from shoulder tendinitis, but it may not be too long. It looks like rookie Mike Minor will stay in the rotation, at least through Tuesday. [Atlanta Journal-Constitution]

Congrats?: Brewers infielder Craig Counsell was believed to have dodged setting the record for most consecutive at-bats without a hit recently when he snapped an 0-for-45 skid one hitless at-bat before the record set by Bill Bergen in 1909. However, the Elias Sports Bureau went back and found that Bergen's went 0 for 45, meaning Counsell and former big leaguer Dave Campbell tied Bergen for baseball's longest streak of futility. Campbell achieved the feat in 1973 while with the Padres, Cardinals and Astros. The original 0 for 46 mark was from Joe Dittmar, who had researched it as a piece on Bergen for the Society for American Baseball Reaserach in 1997. Dittmar went back to check his work and saw that he was off by one and Elias was right. So, congrats Counsell and Campbell, or probably more accurately to Bergen, who is no long alone with his streak. [New York Times]

Confidence is key: Toronto's Edwin Encarnacion said his belief in himself has been able to get him through another difficult year. It looked as if Encarnacion might be the odd man out when the Jays were set to promote Brett Lawrie at the end of June, but since Lawrie broke his hand and his call up was delayed. Since June 28, Encarnacion has hit .325/.414/.580 with nine home runs and cut down his strikeouts to 25 with 22 walks over that time. He's also been helped by being taken off third base where he's struggled throughout his career with consistency -- making the really difficult plays and botching the easy ones. [Toronto Star]

Please stay Rays: St. Petersburg mayor Bill Foster said Thursday that he has a "detailed plan" to keep the Rays in St. Pete, but refused to disclose any details. The city clerk said she knew nothing about it, but Foster claims it exists. Don't get too excited about this plan, though, while he didn't spill any beans, he did "clarify" that his "detailed plan" may not include a new stadium. [Tampa Tribune]

Hold on: The Nationals' Tyler Clippard has a pretty good shot at breaking the holds record this year. If you can't quite remember who currently holds it, you're forgiven -- it's not like we're talking about Babe Ruth's home run record (I kid). Clippard got his 32nd hold last night and has a decent shot at breaking Luke Gregerson's record of 40 set way back in 2010. [Baseball-Reference.com]

M.C. Doc Halladay?: Rapper Game references Phillies ace Roy Halladay on his new album. That's all. Just found it interesting and liked the mental image Dave Brown gives of Halladay at the Source Awards. [Yahoo's Big League Stew]

Making dad proud: The other day I teased Reds scouting director Chris Buckley about the team's pick of his son, Sean, in the sixth round. Another team official was there and rightfully noted, "nepotism picks comes in the 40s, not the sixth round." They're right -- and early in his career, Sean Buckley is proving him right. Buckley has 13 home runs already in short-season Class A with the Billings Mustangs, including one that cleared the batter's eye in center field. [MiLB.com]

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Posted on: August 18, 2011 6:09 pm
 

Span placed on DL, Mauer heads to right

SpanBy Evan Brunell

Denard Span was placed on the disabled list by the Twins after not appearing in a game since Saturday.

To replace Span on the roster, infielder Luke Hughes was recalled. However, between Span's DLing, the trade of Delmon Young to Detroit and Michael Cuddyer day to day with with an injured neck,  Minnesota is all of a sudden short in the outfield.

That's why Joe Mauer is playing right field on Thursday as Luke Hughes struggles to get to the Twins in time, leaving Minnesota with just nine healthy position players, as 1500 ESPN reports. Forced into outfield duty by necessity, its Mauer's first career game in the outfield. Mauer has also played first base, doing so 12 times in his career -- all this season.

Mauer hasn't played the outfield except "maybe a couple games in town ball," he told ESPN, but "I guess it was either me or [Justin Morneau]. It's just been an interesting year. Hopefully we get through today and get some guys in here, and hopefully it's just a one-time deal."

Mauer mentioned that had Hughes been available, he would have been catching. Instead, backup Drew Butera will draw the assignment.

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Category: MLB
Posted on: August 18, 2011 10:06 am
 

Pepper: Down to two races?



By C. Trent Rosecrans

With just more than a month to go, we're down to just two races in baseball -- the National League West and the American League Central.

The rest? Done. Decided.

The National League East? The Phillies lead the Braves by 8 1/2 games. Done.

The National League Central? The Brewers are up on the Cardinals by seven, winning 19 of their last 21 and watching as the Cardinals take another September siesta. Done.

The National League wild card? It's the Braves to not just lose, but to give away in spectacular Cubian fashion. That's not happening. Done.

The American League East? Boston trails by a half-game, so the division is up in the air, but with Boston leading the Wild Card by eight games, both teams are playing in October, all that's left is figuring out seeding, the important stuff? Done.

The American League West? Texas has won its last six, including the last three in Anaheim against the Angels. Done.

At least we have the NL West and the AL Central -- those will at least be interesting for a while.

Looking back at last year at the same time, the Braves led the Phillies in the NL East, but both ended up in the playoffs. In the AL East, The Yankees and Rays were deadlocked atop the division, but again, both went to the playoffs. Sound familiar?

Minnesota had a four-game lead over the White Sox in the AL Central, a lead they'd hold, while the Rangers were running away from the Angels with an eight-game lead. Deja vu.

As for the NL Central? Cincinnati was leading the Cardinals by just two games, but St. Louis would fade down the stretch. And in the NL West, the Giants trailed the surprising Padres by five games.

Basically, it looks like we've seen this all before. But you know what? It was pretty fun to watch last year and it will be again this year.

Brewers confident: After Tuesday's win, Brewers outfielder Nyjer Morgan said the team has to "try to catch Philly," according to the Associated Press. "That's our goal, since we have nobody to really chase in our division, let's go chase Philly." After Wednesday's win, Zack Greinke said, "It's definitely not locked up now, but it's on us mainly," according to the Journal Sentinel. And he added, "it is ours to lose." It is indeed.

Giants' road to repeat: The Giants have the easiest remaining schedule among contenders, Yahoo's Jeff Passan writes as he breaks down the remaining schedules for the contenders (and the Cardinals, Rays and Angels). Passan also gives the Brewers more reason to be confident -- the third-easiest remaining schedule, plus the most off days and more home games than road games remaining. As for the AL Central, the Tigers have the best remaining schedule among the contenders. And not only are the Rays well behind both the Red Sox and Yankees in both the division and the wild card, they also have the toughest remaining schedule -- 10 against Boston, six against New York, six against Texas and four against Detroit.

Some people are just jerks: And online, they all have a voice. Randy Galloway of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram has proof -- sharing the emails he's gotten from people against the proposed statue of Shannon Stone and his son.

Logic may prevail: Although there were reports this weekend that Cubs general manager Jim Hendry's job was safe, but Sports Illustrated's Jon Heyman says that's not so certain. What you can blow $251.5 million on Carlos Zambrano, Milton Bradley, Alfonso Soriano and Kosuke Fukudome and have to worry about your job? Say it ain't so.

Five tool players: Every year I look forward to Baseball America's Tools issue -- and I got it in the mail yesterday. It's fascinating reading and also allows you to geek out about minor league players and what they could become. Over at FanGraphs, they feel the same way, but Carson Cistulli decided to find out which big leaguers have displayed five tools through the "nerdiest possible" numbers. It's great stuff. And if you didn't know, Chase Utley, Troy Tulowitzki and David Wright are good.

Speaking of tools: Former Reds and Nationals GM Jim Bowden never saw a tools-y player he didn't like. He has five players you should give up on -- starting with the Pirates' Pedro Alvarez. [ESPN.com]

CC's history lesson: Yankees starter CC Sabathia spent Tuesday morning at the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum in Kansas City, saying he drew inspiration from the visit for his start on Thursday in Minnesota. If you're ever in Kansas City, make sure you make it to the museum either before or after you go to Arthur Bryant's. [New York Times]

Tony Plush's kitty kat: Good for Brewers outfielder Nyjer Morgan, who adopted a new cat from the Wisconsin Humane Society. [Twitter]

Dim your jacket: Tuesday night the umpires working the A's-O's game had to ask two men with LED equipped clothing behind the plate to dim their wares. [Yahoo!'s Big League Stew]

Extending Ichiro?: Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times makes the argument against the Mariners extending Ichiro's contract.

Passport problems: Royals outfielder Jeff Francoeur will use his off day on Monday to get a new passport -- his old one expired after 10 years and he forgot about it. The Royals are scheduled to go to Toronto later that day. [Kansas City Star]

Hat flap: The National wanted to wear military hats in Tuesday's game, but Major League Baseball denied their request. Instead, the Nationals wore the hats during batting practice. The main reason? Well, ignore the jibber-jabber from MLB, it's that there was no money to be made, so they didn't want to do it. MLB told the Washington Post that it prefers to for teams to use patches or batting practice for such displays. [Washington Post's DC Sports Bog]

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Posted on: August 17, 2011 1:00 pm
Edited on: August 17, 2011 1:09 pm
 

Thome says he's 'guilty by association'

Jim ThomeBy C. Trent Rosecrans

Jim Thome's now the eighth member of the 600 home run club, but as we've discussed many times, that club is less celebrated now than it used to be because it includes the likes of Barry Bonds, Alex Rodriguez and Sammy Sosa.

All three of those players have been attached to allegations of performance-enhancing drugs, while Thome hasn't. But Thome, along with Ken Girffey Jr., have achieved their 600 home runs during the so-called steroid era. Thome, speaking on the Dan Patrick Show (via SportsRadioInterviews.com), said all players from this era will live with a cloud of suspicion, including himself.

"I've said this and I've been very open about this, I think what has happened is there have been a lot of guys to pay the price," Thome said. "My thing was not every guy in that era did it and not every guy has done it. There were guys in our time that did it the right way. I think that has maybe been the effect on today's game as far as people have a hard time saying 'did this guy do it? Did this guy do it?' There's always going to be that question mark no question."

Thome was then asked if he would question Jim Thome and his accomplishments.

"Sure. I mean yeah absolutely," Thome said. "Again you're kinda guilty by association in an era, in a time when guys did it. That's what feels so good. I talk to you about the journey, the journey to get there and what it took to get there and the people that worked with you and how hard you worked to get there."

And Thome's right. Look at any accomplishment these days and they will be questioned -- whether it's Thome's 600 home runs or Jose Bautista's turnaround -- people are going to start talking about steroids or HGH. Thome's smart enough to know that and smart enough to acknowledge it. 

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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