Posted on: February 24, 2012 9:51 pm
Edited on: February 24, 2012 9:52 pm

Manny Ramirez: Meet Brett Anderson

By Matt Snyder

It didn't take long for Manny Ramirez -- a.k.a. Manny Being Manny -- to make his humorous mark in A's camp Friday. See the following tweet from injured A's pitcher Brett Anderson:

I'd say this easily qualifies as my favorite tweet of the year so far. Pure hilarity.

There is a huge age difference here, as Anderson is only 24 while Ramirez is 39. Still, Anderson has 62 major-league starts under his belt, so it's not like he's a rookie. Unfortunately, the two have never faced each other in a game, otherwise it would have been even funnier -- not that any extra humor is necessary.

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Posted on: February 24, 2012 4:20 pm

Sizemore injured, 'unlikely' for opening day

By Matt Snyder

Once one of Major League Baseball's most promising, young stars, Indians' center fielder Grady Sizemore's career has been derailed by injuries. Unfortunately, his luck hasn't changed one bit in 2012.

Friday, Indians head athletic trainer Lonnie Soloff told media (including Jordan Bastian of that two weeks ago Sizemore suffered a lower back strain and is "unlikely" for opening day. Sizemore injured himself while fielding ground balls and has been shut down since. There is "no timetable yet for [a] return to baseball drills."

It's hard to not feel bad for the guy, as Sizemore simply can't stay healthy anymore. From 2005-2008, he averaged 160 games played per season. Since then, he's only played in 210 total (an average of 70 per season). His performance has suffered when he's been on the field, too, as Sizemore's OPS from 2009-11 was .728. From 2005-08, it was .868. His stolen base and home run rates have gone down as well.

Last season, Sizemore hit .224/.285/.422 with 10 homers and zero stolen bases in 71 games. He hit free agency, but the Indians brought him back on a one-year, incentive-laden contract.

With Sizemore out of the lineup, the Indians can slide Michael Brantley to center and go with Shelley Duncan, Aaron Cunningham or even Matt LaPorta in left field.

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Posted on: February 24, 2012 3:46 pm

Starlin Castro touches upon allegations

By Matt Snyder

Back in early January, accusations of sexual assault against Cubs All-Star shortstop Starlin Castro emerged. Castro was interviewed by police in mid-January upon his return to America from his home in the Dominican Republic, otherwise there hasn't been much news on the subject.

Friday, in Cubs camp, Castro addressed the situation, sort of.

"I cooperated with the police [by] talking about that," he said (Chicago Sun-Times). "I don't have [anything more] to say about that. I'm ready to play baseball and practice very hard to help this team win this season."

Alfonso Soriano, Castro's closest friend on the Cubs, got his buddy's back.

"I think he didn't make a mistake because he did not do anything wrong, and I believe in him," Soriano said (Chicago Sun-Times). "He's such a great guy, and he thinks everybody can be friends with him. Now he knows when that happened to him he has to be a little more careful."

And Castro agreed: "You've got to be careful, because a lot of bad people in the world." (Chicago Sun-Times)

So it would appear Soriano and Castro are painting the picture that the allegations against Castro were untrue. And it has been about five weeks since the police interviewed Castro for several hours, so it's entirely possible this matter is behind the Cubs' shortstop.

Castro, 21, hit .307/.341/.432 with 10 homers, 66 RBI, 91 runs, 22 stolen bases and an NL-leading 207 hits last season. He made his first All-Star Game.

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Posted on: February 24, 2012 3:15 pm

Video: Braun discusses winning his appeal

By Matt Snyder

Friday, Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun came to spring camp just one day after learning his appeal was upheld and he wouldn't have to serve a 50-game suspension for his positive drug test last October. And he came out swinging.

Here's a portion of the press conference:

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Posted on: February 24, 2012 3:01 pm

Victor Conte unimpressed with Ryan Braun

By Matt Snyder

Many were impressed by exhonorated Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun's press conference Friday. Victor Conte wasn't one of those people.

Conte founded the Bay Area Laboratory Co-operative ("BALCO") and served time in prison after pleading guilty to conspiracy to distribute steroids and money laundering charges back in 2005. And he's not buying what Braun is selling.

Ever since the appeal decision was reported Thursday afternoon, Conte's been firing off tweet after tweet (@VictorConte) in an attempt to make everyone believe that he knows Braun used a "fast-acting testosterone." Here are a few examples:

• "My opinion. Floyd Landis case like Braun case. A & B samples w/ elevated T/E ratio. CIR confirms 'synthetic' testosterone. Lots of smoke"

• "[CIR confirmation is] Carbon Isotope Ratio tests for synthetic vs natural testosterone. Nail in coffin."

• "I believe fast acting testosterone use is rampant in MLB. Even 4 to 1 T/E ratio is easy to beat. CIR screening is needed on all samples"

• [in reply to someone calling him a "joke"] "Maybe the truth about the Braun case is the joke"

• "My opinion. Braun's positive test for testosterone was not overturned. Simply a procedure error was made by MLB. Braun tested positive."

There's more, but I'd rather not continue to give this guy his due. I found the last one I listed especially funny, as he stated that "Braun tested positive" as if that was some sort of revelation. Of course Braun tested positive. That wasn't in question. Braun even discussed that his test came up as positive. The question was whether or not the sample was a legitimate, untainted sample. Conte seems to believe he has all the information here -- as if he was in the lab -- and when someone uninvolved with the process acts like the ultimate authority on the matter, that always feels a bit much for me. I'm not going to pretend I know exactly what happened, but I do know a third-party arbitrator saw all the evidence and sided with a player for the first time ever. Conte believes he knows better. 

Hey, to each his own. Feel free to give as much or as little credibility to Conte's tweets as you wish. We're simply passing them along.

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Posted on: February 24, 2012 2:11 pm

CBS News legal analyst discusses Braun case

By Matt Snyder

Brewers left fielder Ryan Braun won his appeal of a positive drug test Thursday, and Friday Jack Ford, CBS News legal analyst, joined the Tim Brando Show to discuss the controversial outcome of the Ryan Braun PED appeal case.

Here is the clip.

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Posted on: February 24, 2012 1:35 pm
Edited on: February 24, 2012 5:26 pm

Braun comes out swinging, claims his innocence

By C. Trent Rosecrans

Brewers outfielder Ryan Braun came out swinging against the Major League Baseball drug testing process, the sample collector and the media in his first public statements since his positive drug test on October.

"I can only answer for myself," Braun said. "The program, as it applied to me, was fatally flawed. I've certainly been frustrated by the process. I've felt it's been unfair.

"Are there changes that should be made? I believe yes."

Major League Baseball executive vice president for labor relations Rob Manfred issued a statement disputing Braun's assertion.

“Our program is not ‘fatally flawed,’" Manfred said. "Changes will be made promptly to clarify the instructions provided to collectors regarding when samples should be delivered to FedEx based on the arbitrator’s decision. Neither Mr. Braun nor the MLBPA contended in the grievance that his sample had been tampered with or produced any evidence of tampering.”

Braun wins appeal
Braun did detail, however, not only when he was tested, but also casted doubt on the sample collector, noting there were 18 Federal Express offices were open until 9 p.m. in Milwaukee and even one 24-hour FedEx office. He said he was tested after a 1 p.m. game that ended at 4:15. Braun laid out his defense like a lawyer making his closing statement.

"At the end of the day the truth prevailed," he said. "I'm a victim of a process that completely broke down and failed in the way that it was applied to me in the case. As players, we're held to a standard of 100 percent perfection regarding the program, and everybody else associated with that program should be held to the same standard. We're a part of a process where you're 100 percent guilty until proven innocent. It's the opposite of the American judicial system.

In fact, Braun said he's considering legal action, citing possible legal action as a reason for not naming the sample collector.

He also shot down a rumor that he'd been treated for sexually transmitted disease, noting he'd never had an STD.

Braun came out swinging, said his performance had been measured -- that he didn't add a pound, he didn't become any faster. He also noted he already has a nine-year, guaranteed contract.

"I'd bet my life that this substance never entered my body," Braun said.

He also said he was unhappy that the test became public and that he has an idea how the news of his positive test leaked. ESPN reported his positive test -- which was supposed to remain confidential until the appeal was heard -- in December.

"I tried to handle the entire situation with honor, with integrity, with class, with dignity and with professionalism because that's who I am and that's how I've always lived my life," he said. "If I had done this intentionally or unintentionally, I'd be the first one to step up and I say I did it. By no means am I perfect, but if I've ever made any mistakes in my life, I've taken responsibility for my actions. I truly believe in my heart and I would bet my life that the substance never entered my body at any point."

MLB contends the leak didn't come from their end.

“With regards to the breach of confidentiality regarding this case, both the Commissioner’s Office and the MLBPA have investigated the original leak of Ryan Braun’s test, and we are convinced that the leak did not come from the Commissioner’s Office," Manfred said in a statement.

The MLB Players Association agrees.

“Our Joint Drug Program stands as strong, as accurate and as reliable as any in sport, both before and after the Braun decision," said MLBPA executive director Michael Weiner in a statement. "The breach of confidentiality associated with this matter is unfortunate but, after investigation, we are confident that it was not caused by the Commissioner’s Office, the MLBPA or anyone associated in any way with the Program. In all other respects, the appeals process worked as designed; the matter was vigorously contested and the independent and neutral arbitrator issued a decision deserving of respect by both bargaining parties."

Braun was asked about how his reputation would suffer, even after his successful appeal.

"I'm not dumb enough to pretend this is going to go away," Braun said. "I'm going to deal with this for a while. It's going to be a challenge."

"My name has been dragged through the mud as everything I've ever worked for in my life has been called into question."

Braun, who won the NL MVP after hitting .332/.397/.597 with 33 homers, 109 runs and 111 RBIs last year, is the first Major League Baseball player to have his suspension lifted by an arbitrator for a drug-related penalty. Arbitrator Shyam Das threw out Braun's ban on Thursday. Das, who has been baseball's independent arbitrator since 2000, informed the sides of his decision but did not give them a written opinion. He has 30 days to do so.

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Posted on: February 24, 2012 12:35 pm

Hamilton says he doesn't 'owe the Rangers'

Josh Hamilton

By C. Trent Rosecrans

After his most recent relapse, the Rangers put their extension talks with Josh Hamilton on hold. Despite the way the Rangers have supported Hamilton through two public relapses, the former MVP said he doesn't feel like he owes the team and doesn't expect an extension before the end of the season, when he can become a free agent.

Speaking to reporters on Friday, Hamilton had this to say (via the Fort Worth Star-Tribune):
"The Rangers have done a lot for me, but I've got a question for ya'll: Have I done a lot for the Rangers?" Hamilton said. "I think I've given them everything I've had, and I don't think anybody can say I haven't. When it comes down to it, what people don't understand, is this is a business.

"I love Texas, I love my fans, I love the fans of the Rangers, I love the organization, I love my teammates, I love everything about it. But I'm not going to sit here and say I owe the Rangers, because I don't feel like I owe the Rangers."
I have a good friend who is a Rangers fan and she's not happy with the comments, and I can see how Rangers fans would feel that way. On the other hand, he's been paid to do a job and he's done it. If the Rangers weren't happy with him or his ability to do it, they don't have to offer Hamilton a contract after the season -- I'm pretty sure someone else will. That's the beauty of the free market.

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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