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Category:MLB
Posted on: February 25, 2012 4:14 pm
Edited on: February 25, 2012 6:13 pm
 

Manny to Oakland pitcher: "Get me some video?"

PHOENIX -- Athletics left-hander Brett Anderson was not joking when he fired off this tweet Friday evening: "Manny just asked if I was the video coordinator ... our relationship can only go up from here."

Anderson was dead serious ... and the result was gut-bustingly funny.

Starter Dallas Braden, between belly laughs, confirmed the exchange between Anderson and Manny Ramirez on Saturday morning.

"I was in the room when Manny asked Brett if he could get him some video," Braden said. "I died laughing."

Braden thought it was so funny that he ran toward the clubhouse to tell the rest of the Athletics, taking a short cut through the trainer's room so he could break the news. But he said Anderson still beat him to it.

"It was funny," Braden said. "It was hilarious. You always wonder when you get a new teammate what the interaction will be.

"Not only is Brett Anderson a pretty decent left-handed pitcher, now he's Manny's video guy."

Anderson, who is recovering from Tommy John surgery and is not expected to rejoin Oakland's rotation before August, is 21-23 with a 3.66 ERA in 62 career starts.

"We left a baseball card of Brett in Manny's locker today," Braden said. "To remind him that while Brett may be queuing up video for Manny, he'll also be pitching every fifth day."

Posted on: February 24, 2012 5:50 pm
 

K-Rod digs Milwaukee: "I want to make that clear"

PHOENIX -- Meanwhile, over in the non-Ryan Braun corner of the clubhouse Friday, former closer Francisco Rodriguez took time out from contemplating a lawsuit against his former agents to report for duty as the 2012 Brewers' set-up man.

In what could be termed as a mild surprise, Rodriguez was smiling and appeared happy. Once intending to declare free agency over the winter and find a job as a closer, K-Rod wound up discovering a tepid market and wound up accepting a one-year, $8 million deal from the Brewers.

Unhappy a year ago because he did not pitch in one save opportunity after being traded to Milwaukee on July 12, Rodriguez again is slated to pitch the eighth innings while Milwaukee closer John Axford works the ninth innings.

Though Rodriguez is contemplating a malpractice and fraud suit against former agents Paul Kinzer and Arn Tellem of the Wasserman Media Group because they failed to file a no-trade provision on his behalf when he pitched for the Mets, he emphasized that he is not unhappy to be returning to Milwaukee.

"I want to make that clear," said Rodriguez, who had the Brewers listed among 10 teams he could not be traded to in the paperwork that was never filed. "Some newspapers said I did not want to come here, and that's not the point.

"Three years ago when they asked me about the list, it was not that I did not want to come to this city or this team, but the closer was Trevor Hoffman. It had nothing to do with the fact that I did not want to come to Milwaukee.

"That's true."

Because of Hoffman's presence, Rodriguez explained, he placed Milwaukee on his no-trade list because he never intended to pitch for a team on which he would not close.

"I'm honored and happy to be here," Rodriguez insisted. "If I didn't like the city, trust me, I'd go my separate way."

Sunblock day? Great day. It's heating up in the desert, close to 80 degrees. You want to see Cactus League clubs, you'd better slather on the sunscreen.

Likes: Looking forward to serving as a panelist at Arizona State University's Cronkite School of Journalism on Monday night. I'll be joining Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, Janie McCauley of the Associated Press and Bob Nightengale of USA Today in a panel discussion talking about covering spring training. ... Cool scene with the Rangers with Yu Darvish in camp. His parents are really nice folks. ... Meatballz Italian Deli in Peoria. Had the eggplant parmesan the other night and it was great. And I don't say that lightly: I've never before had eggplant parmesan. But it was Ash Wednesday, and I was going meatless, so I skipped the chicken parmesan. ... The shrimp creole at Pappadeaux Seafood Kitchen in Phoenix. ... Sirius/XM Satellite radio's E Street Channel. Been digging the unveiling of a new track each day from Bruce Springsteen's forthcoming Wrecking Ball record.

Dislikes: Grady Sizemore, hurt again in Cleveland. Poor guy, and poor Indians. What was shaping up as a brilliant career now looks certain to fall way short of that.

Rock 'n' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"Kiss a little baby
"Give the world a smile
"And if you take an inch
"Give them back a mile
"'Cause if you lie like a rug
"And you don't give a damn
"You're never going to be
"As happy as a clam"

-- John Prine, Big Old Goofy World
Posted on: February 24, 2012 1:51 pm
Edited on: February 24, 2012 2:27 pm
 

'Bet my life the substance never entered my body'

PHOENIX -- Ryan Braun was forceful, emotional and relieved during a 23-minute session with reporters here Friday in his first public comments since his positive performance-enhancing drug test was leaked in December and since he was exonerated and had a potential 50-game suspension overturned by an arbiter on Friday.

Some highlights from his 13-minute opening statement:

•  "This was the biggest challenge I've ever faced in my life."

•  "I've tried to respect the process even though the confidentiality of the process was breeched early on> I've tgried to handle the 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. If I had done this intentionally or unintentionally, I'd be the first one to step up and say, 'I did it.' By no means am I perfect. But if I've ever made mistakes in my life, I've taken responsibility for my actions. I truly believe in my heart and would bet my life that the substance never entered my body at any point."

•  "I've always had tremendous respect for the game of baseball. ... I've put the best interests of the game ahead of the best interests of myself. And that hasn't been easy. There were a lot of times when I wanted to come out and tell the entire story and attack everybody as I've been attacked, as my name's been dragged through the mud, as everything I've ever worked for in my entire life has been called into question. There were a lot of times I wanted to tell the entire story but at the end of the day I recognized what's best for the game of baseball, and I put that ahead of what was best for myself."

•  "I could have never, ever envisioned being in this position today discussing this subject. ... I learned a long time ago to stop questioning life. I believe that everything that's thrown at us, there's a reason for. I've yet to figure out exactly what the reason for this is, but I don't question that."

•  "I've always stood up for what it right. Today's for everybody who has ever been wrongly accused, and for everybody who's ever had to stand up for what is right."

•  "In spite of the fact that there have been many inaccurate, erroneous and completely fabricated stories about this issue, I've maintained the integrity of the confidentiality of the process. There's never been a personal medical issue, I've never had an STD [sexually-transmitted disease], many of the stories that were erroneously reported by the intial network [were wrong], and it's sad and it's disappointing that this has become a PR battle and people continue to leak information that's inaccurate."

•  "We won because the truth is on my side. The truth is always relevant, and at the end of the day the truth prevailed. I'm a victim of a process that failed in the way that it was applied to me in this case. As players, we're held to a standard of 100 percent perfection regarding the program, and everybody associated with that program should be held to the same standard. We're a part of a process where we're 100 percent guilty until proven innocent. ... if we're held to that standard, it's only fair that everybody else is held to that exact same standard."

•  "This is my livelihood, my integrity, my character, this is everything I've ever worked for in my life being called into question. We need to make sure we get it right. If you're going to be in a position where you're 100 percent guilty until being proven innocent, you cannot mess up."

•  Braun said he was tested on Oct. 1, following Game 1 of the NL Division Series against Arizona in Milwaukee, and was made aware that he had tested positive on Oct. 19. At that point, he said, he had a conversation with representatives from the Players' Assn. "I expressed to them that I have not done anything that could have led to this test result. I told them, 'I promise you on anything that's ever meant anything to me in my life, the morals, the virtues, the values by which I've lived in my 28 years on this planet, I did not do this. I told them I would be an open book. I opened up my life to them. I told them I'd be willing and happy to take any test to prove to them I did not do this."

•  "At the end of the day, I know the truth. My friends, family, teammates, the Milwaukee Brewers organization and everybody who knows me knows the truth. At the point that I told the Players' Assn. about the positive test, they told me that the results were three times higher than any number in the history of drug testing."

•  "At that point I was able to prove to them through contemporaneously documented recordings that I literally didn't gain a single pound. When we're in Milwaukee, we weigh in once or twice a week. Our times are recorded every time we run down the line, first to third, first to home, I literally didn't get one tenth of a second faster. My workouts have been virtually the exact same for six years. I didn't get one percent stronger, I didn't work out more often, I didn't have any additional power or any additional arm strength. All of those things are documented ... if anything had changed, I wouldn't be able to go back and pretend like they didn't change."

•  "I explained I'm 27 years old, I'm just entering my prime, I have a guaranteed contract for nine years, I've been tested over 25 times in my career, at least three times this season prior to this test, and an additional time when I signed my contract including an extensive physical, a blood test, everything you can imagine. ... They said, 'That's great, we believe you, the other side believes you, none of this makes any sense to anybody.'"

•  "I want everybody to ask themselves this question: If you guys went to go get a physical, something you've done 20, 25 other times in your life, and three weeks later they came back and said you were terminally ill with a disease and it made no sense to you. You said I feel perfectly fine, nothing's different than it's ever been, this doesn't make any sense, and you look back at the process and you find that your doctor decided to take a urine sample home for a 44-, 48-hour period, and there's no documentation as to what happened, you don't know if he decided to leave it in the trunk of his car, where it could have been or what could have potentially happened to it during that period of time, I assure you that you would never go back to that doctor, and you would demand a re-test."

•  "Ultimately as I sit here today, the system worked because I was innocent and I was able to prove my innocence."

•  "I can't get into many details of the process because it's supposed to be confidential, and because of ongoing litigation, and because I'm considering all of my legal options, there may be some questions I can't answer."
Category: MLB
Posted on: February 24, 2012 12:49 pm
 

Thrilled Brewers back Braun, angry over leak

PHOENIX -- A happy bunch of Brewers had two overwhelming reactions while reporting to work and awaiting newly cleared slugger Ryan Braun's arrival Friday morning.

"I'm thrilled," outfielder Nyjer Morgan said. "It's like another Christmas."

"He's the best player in the league," outfielder Corey Hart said. "That's a pretty good pickup we got."

But they were far less pleased that Braun's ordeal became public in the first place, and that Major League Baseball essentially declared him guilty of steroid use in a statement saying the league "vehemently disagrees" with the arbiter's decision overturning his 50-game suspension.

"I was actually disappointed that major league baseball didn't wait until Ryan spoke before they said something," Milwaukee player representative Chris Narveson said. "We're definitely in favor of drug testing. We just want it done right.

"All it takes is one administrative mess-up to cause a fault. There can be a glitch in the system."

"It's a problem when you're guilty until you're proven innocent," veteran pitcher Shaun Marcum said. "In a court of law it's the opposite.

"It's a crappy situation. Ryan is one of those guys who's not going to do anything like that. The guy rarely puts alcohol into his body. I don't see him putting steroids in there."

The fact that what was supposed to have been a private process leaked to ESPN in December bothered all of them.

"The things that happened with this can't happen again," Hart said. "Because of what happened, I assume things will change. You hurt the reputation of one of the best players in the league.

"He'll get it back, but fans are always going to wonder. And it's not fair to him.

"He's one of the hardest working guys I've ever seen. For his reputation to be messed with, it's discouraging."

Brewers catcher Jonthan Lucroy said he was "disappointed" in MLB being so quick and so aggressive to publicly dispute the verdict.

"It's almost like they're being a sore loser," Lucroy said. "It was a low blow. I don't think it's right to do that. This is the process, and it worked in the player's favor one time and they react like that?"

Bottom line, the Brewers have their MVP's back and say they believed in him the whole time.

"I think it shows that if you come out and do it the right thing and tell the truth and be honest, it means something," Lucroy said. "The process worked."
Posted on: February 24, 2012 12:01 pm
 

Brewers player rep: Testing problems in Milwaukee

PHOENIX, Ariz. -- As Ryan Braun reported to camp on Friday, Brewers player representative Chris Narveson said there have been issues with drug testing before in Milwaukee.

Specifically, with one of his own tests shortly after last summer's All-Star Game.

"Mine was more of a failure to communicate that I was getting tested," Narveson said Friday morning. "You're walking out the door in your street clothes an hour-and-a-half after the game and they come up to you and say, 'We forgot to tell you, you're getting tested.

"Errors like that can't happen."

Narveson added: "It's interesting, that's two instances for us with the same group of guys testing. .... One time can be an aberration."

The pitchers said that after he was collared late for testing when leaving the ballpark after already dressing, that they tightened things up "and tried to make sure they notified us" more promptly after a game.

Still, Narveson said the players firmly support drug testing. They just want things done right.

"I don't think there are flaws in the system," Narveson said. "If they follow protocol the whole way, I don't think we have an issue."

But he pointed out that the testers did not follow protocol with him. And, of course, a large part of Braun's dispute was that his specimen sat at the tester's home for more than 48 hours before being shipped where it was supposed to go.

"Ryan's sample sat for 48 hours," Narveson said. "Anybody can do anything [to] it."

Narveson and several Brewers also sharply criticized the system for allowing a leak in the first place. News of Braun testing positive for synthetic testosterone leaked to ESPN in December.

"Now that we look back, if this didn't get out, nobody hears about it," Narveson said. "Braun comes in today and there's four or five reporters saying, 'How was your off-season?'"
Posted on: February 23, 2012 8:41 pm
Edited on: February 23, 2012 8:44 pm
 

What Braun says could save his reputation

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Ryan Braun beat the rap. But how bad of a hit did his reputation take in the process? And will a murky guilt-by-association tag hover over the rest of his career?

Well, that all depends. And it depends enormously on what he says when he arrives in Milwaukee's spring training camp on Friday.

In a perfect world, Braun being exonerated by the ruling Arbitration Panel would be enough. And maybe that should be enough. We live by the justice system in this country, and shouldn't it be enough to believe that justice prevailed here?

Of course, in a perfect world, Braun's failed performance-enhancing drug test never would have leaked in the first place. Privacy is part of the joint agreement between owners and players, and the PED stuff is all supposed to remain behind closed doors until the very end of the process, if a player winds up being suspended.

In this case, it didn't. And we know Braun tested positive for an incredibly high amount of testosterone. Rightly or wrongly, Braun has been boxed in because things leaked. He's said he is looking forward to the time when he can talk.

Well, that time is now. It will be Friday in Maryvale, Ariz.

According to sources, he beat the rap on a "chain-of-command" issue. Arbiter Shyam Das broke the panel's 1-1 deadlock by voting to uphold Braun's grievance, that his urine specimen, given on a Saturday, should have been immediately delivered to Fed Ex for shipping. Because of the weekend, the collector was instructed to take the specimen home, store it in a safe place and ship it on Monday.

Though the specimen was said to have no name attached and to have been sealed three different ways, because it sat for more than 48 hours, Braun won his appeal.

So what will Braun say, now that he's finally free to talk?

I hope he has some honest, heartfelt answers. I'd like to think he'll have a solid explanation for his heightened testosterone levels.

If he simply plays dumb and says he has no idea what happened or how any of this could have happened, it's not going to be enough to regain his full reputation. Shouldn't be that way, but it is. Especially because he's flat-out said he looks forward to the day when he can explain some of this.

Until this, Braun was one of the game's shining lights. With his case now closed, I hope he gives himself the chance to remain one.

Posted on: February 21, 2012 6:56 pm
 

Mariners shuffle lineup, Ichiro out at leadoff

PEORIA, Ariz. -- The game's worst-kept secret finally was uttered publicly -- and definitively -- by the Mariners here on Tuesday: Ichiro Suzuki, leadoff man extraordinaire for most of the past decade, will be bumped down in the lineup in 2012.

Suzuki, at 38, is coming off of his worst season in the majors. That, combined with the Mariners' persistent failure to score runs over the past two seasons, made it impossible for Seattle to justify keeping Ichiro atop the lineup.

Eric Wedge will begin the season with Ichiro hitting third. The manager envisions Chone Figgins, who was an All-Star as the Angels' leadoff man in 2009, returning to the top of the lineup in what likely will be a last-ditch grab at past glories for Figgins. Though it is not cast in stone, Wedge said second baseman Dustin Ackley likely will hit second.

Wedge said he and Ichiro talked on Monday before the Mariners made their decision public a day later.

"I sat down and explained to him the whys and wherefores," Wedge said. "This wasn't out of left field.

"He's on board with this. I was very clear with him, and he was very clear with me. This is all about the team. ...

"You look at the impact he can have in the middle of the lineup, it's greater than the impact that he can have at leadoff. It's that simple."

Suzuki, a lifetime .326 hitter, batted a career-worst .272 in 2011. It was the first time in 11 seasons that his average dipped below .300. The 2001 AL MVP's .310 on-base percentage also was, by far, a career low.

"I came in prepared mentally because there was a possibility I'd be hitting elsewhere," Ichiro said through a translator following Seattle's workout Tuesday.

Asked if it will be strange to not hit atop the lineup, Suzuki said: "Anything can happen in this game. It's not just leading off. That's the fun part of the game. Like I fell you guys all the time, I'm ready to pitch."

That likely will not be happening anytime soon. Though some Mariners' fans might swear at this point that Ichiro will take the mound before Figgins will bounce back.

Part of Wedge's thinking, he said, is to get Figgins back into his comfort zone. A colossal disappointment after signing a four-year, $36 million deal before the 2010 season, Figgins bottomed out last season at .188/.241/243. He suffered while doing so, managing what was thought to be a sports hernia through much of the season's final four months but what turned out to be a torn labrum in his hip.

"I'm happy to be healthy," said Figgins, who was married in the offseason. "We talked about what might happen [with the lineup], but I'm just happy to be healthy."

It's no secret that Figgins has been a fish out of water during his two years in Seattle, from having to adjust to a different (non-leadoff) spot in the batting order because of Ichiro to failing to figure out a way to fit his offensive game into Safeco Field.

Clearly, the Mariners are hoping that no small part of this move will result in a boost to Figgins' confidence.

"I'm going to give Figgins first shot at," the leadoff role, Wedge said. "I'm confident that Figgy can get back to his old self as a leadoff hitter. He got on base, scored runs, and really was a pain to opposing teams when he led off in Anaheim."

While the Mariners sort through the top two spots in their order and hope Figgins and Ackley can produce solid enough springs to solidify their roles, the heat will be on Suzuki, who has one year and $17 million left on his current Mariners' deal.

His slugging percentage has been below .400 in each of the past two seasons, and in three of the past four. His OPS has been below .800 in three of the past four seasons. He tweaked his batting stance over the winter, and now is utilizing a more wide-open stance this spring.

"I want to perform better," Suzuki said when asked why he made the changes. "We all make changes to perform better. That's one reason. That's the only reason."

He said he does not view the three-hole as requiring him to hit for more power, though that view likely will be at odds with other folks' expectations (starting with his employer). His career-high is 15 homers, in 2005. He had five last season. In his view, situations dictate some actions at the plate.

"I've always performed when wanting to hit a home run," he said. "Even when leading off, you want to hit a home run when it's the right time.

"That will not change."

His once jet-black hair now dotted with flecks of gray, Suzuki, according to Baseball Prospectus, saw his batting average on balls in play (BABIP) drop 100 points on line drives and 40 points on ground balls. Some of the former is attributable to luck (bad), while some of the latter likely is because of his age (getting old).

"I want him to make it his own," Wedge said of Ichiro and the three-hole in the lineup. "He's as smart a baseball player as we have in there. He wants to do what's best for the ballclub."

Said Ichiro: "I was always prepared to do what's best for the team."

Sunblock Day? Best day of the week so far. Temperature hanging in the mid-70s. Warm sun. Life is good.

Likes: Carlos Guillen, trying to stay in the game with the Mariners, intently watching the clubhouse television after practice. What was he watching? Footage of Prince Fielder joining his old Tigers teammates in Lakeland. ... Padres bullpen coach Darrell Akerfelds staying strong while batting pancreatic cancer. He underwent off-season surgery to determine whether his tumor could be removed, but doctors said it could not be because it was entwined with surrounding arteries. But the good news is, it hasn't grown since last year and Akerfelds is back in uniform for San Diego this spring. ... Mariners general manager Jack Zdurencik has put together quite a front office, including relatively new additions Ted Simmons, Joe McIlvaine and Chris Gwynn. ... Gwynn says his brother, Tony, is doing great after last week's surgery to remove a cancerous tumor inside his right cheek. The brothers spoke over the telephone, and Chris says Tony, who had a nerve removed from his cheek and another transplanted from his neck/shoulder area to replace it, sounds "normal." ... Best scene Tuesday: A father leaning over close to his young son while Felix Hernandez was throwing a bullpen session and telling the boy, "Listen to him pop that glove." ... One heck of a story from Thomas Lake in the current Sports Illustrated looking at Wes Leonard, the Michigan high schooler who made a winning basket and then died on the court last winter, and the Fennville community. ... The sesame swordfish with orange chile salsa at the newly opened Richardson's in Phoenix. Fabulous meal the other night.

Dislikes: Manny Ramirez signing with Oakland. More on that later in the week.

Rock 'n' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"I been stumbling on good hearts turned to stone
The road of good intentions has gone dry as a bone

-- We Take Care of Our Own, Bruce Springsteen
Posted on: February 20, 2012 5:33 pm
 

When Pujols met Yu Darvish

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Truth be told, the biggest news on Albert Pujols' first day as an Angel on Monday probably was something that actually occurred last Thursday, when he went mano y mano with Japanese sensation Yu Darvish.

Texas signed the Japanese sensation not long after the Angels signed Pujols, escalating the AL West arms race.

Pujols said the two met last Thursday while he was working out in Los Angeles.

"He walked in and introduced himself," Pujols said. "He's a really nice guy, really humble.

"He said he's looking forward to the battle, working in the same division. It's going to be fun."

The Angels and Rangers meet for the first time in 2012 on Friday, May 11, in Arlington.

Sunblock Day? Yep. Getting warmer. In the 40s at 7 am, but high 60s and warm sun by late morning.

Likes: Pujols admitting Monday he already received his first fine as an Angel on his first day in camp. "My phone rang in the clubhouse," he said, chuckling. ... Talking late Hall of Famer Gary Carter with Felipe Alou the other day. Alou managed Carter in Montreal, and the two lived about 20 minutes apart in the Palm Beach Gardens area of Florida. "He was the kind of guy who brought light into a room when he walked in," Alou said. Great description. ... Alou also was chuckling reminiscing about Carter's rookie year, when the Expos still had Barry Foote catching and sometimes played Carter in the outfield. "Gary about killed himself running into a wall one time," Alou said. "That was the last time he played outfield. Barry Foote was good, but he was not a Hall of Famer." ... The thin-crust pizza at Oregano's. Went sausage and mushroom the other night. Abstolutely delicious. Plus, cool T-shirts the wait staff was wearing: "Legalize Marinara" read their backs. ... Loved The Help. Definitely worth seeing, if you haven't. ... Indestructible Machine, fantastic disc from Lydia Loveless.

Dislikes: Netflixed The Tree of Life and either I'm not smart enough (very possible), or this is one miserable movie. Oh ... my ... Lord.

Rock 'n' Roll Lyric of the Day:

"I hear that there's a party tonight
"I probably won't go, but thanks for the invite
"'Cause I'd rather stay home and drink gallons of wine
"And that must be why nobody stops by"

-- More Like Them, Lydia Loveless


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