Will Carroll
Friday August 19th, 2011

Bud Selig got his scalp ... or did he? Danny Knobler of CBS Sports broke the story that Mike Jacobs tested positive for HGH, the first North American professional athlete to do so. There have been others, but those were nonanalytic positives, the term for being caught by shipping receipts and paperwork. We still don't have all the details on how Jacobs was caught. Was this a random test, or did the testers target him the same way they did with Terry Newton, the rugby player that WADA touts as its first catch. Newton, we now know, was caught because they watched the shipment and came to his house just hours after the package came, assuming (correctly) that he would use it. The HGH isoform test has a very short period where it is effective. Some experts believe that the period is far shorter than WADA's announced 48 hours. Anthony Roberts, author of several books on performance-enhancing drugs, told me "This particular test has an effective window of 36 hours, with a success rate of about 55 percent. By any objective measure, it needs to be given a failing grade." Jacobs is accepting his suspension and is likely done in baseball. With no appeal, we won't get more information about how this happened. One case to watch is a similar one in cycling. A rider named Patrik Sinkewitz was caught by an in-competition test and is appealing his results to the Court of Arbitration for Sport. This will be WADA's first time defending its test on a scientific basis. With a positive HGH test in baseball and testing now possible in the NFL, the tide is turning in WADA's favor. The key here is whether or not the program is working the way they say it is. If Jacobs was targeted, there's still no excuse for his use of a banned substance. If he was, however, the random nature of the program is still in question. The positive test might have some other unintended consequences as well. Roberts told me, "As we see positive HGH tests mounting, I believe that the black hats will become more involved in spreading the word on how to beat the test. Until now, WADA's HGH test has remained ineffective enough to not warrant much attention from the other side of the street." Powered by Lionel Messi's back story, onto the injuries:

Harper might be called many things, but until Thursday, no one could question his durability. Harper injured himself running up the line on what one source called a "dumb hustle play" and ended up being helped off the field. The Nats said it was a significant strain, likely a Grade II and with the minor league season ending in two weeks, it's likely to end his season. The Harrisburg Senators are a couple games up in their division, but it's unlikely that they would risk Harper for an Eastern League title. The question now is whether Harper would be ready (or need to be ready) for the Fall League. It's not a long-term concern, but is a tough way to end a successful first season for Harper.

The Giants got a bit of positive news after all their injury problems. Wilson hopped a flight to Pensacola, Fla., to have his elbow checked by Dr. James Andrews this week. Andrews found nothing more than inflammation, though having no real cause is still a bit of worry. Wilson will work with the Giants medical staff to calm down the inflammation, and his workload will have to be monitored. It's less about innings and pitches than how his elbow is recovering between outings. There was a bit of concern deeper in some stories, in that he wouldn't need surgery "right now." That sort of issue wasn't there in Dave Groeschner's statement. In fact, neither Groeschner nor Andrews saw a need for surgery after the season. Wilson is out through the weekend and may lose a couple save opportunities over the next few weeks.

Let's just acknowledge that Ruiz has a very painful injury, that he deserves a nod from every guy in the world for playing after the injury, and wish him the best. (I am curious why the Phillies felt it necessary to clarify that it was "left." Just askin'.) Things look pretty good for Hamels. His shoulder has responded to therapy, but they'll watch him throw a side session on Friday. If the Phillies medical staff has any questions, the bias is, I'm told, to "more rest." The Phillies want to see that he's "perfect." Not just pretty good, but perfect, as the team is far more focused on having Hamels ready for the playoffs. They want him comfortable and ready to go deep into October and are willing to give up a couple more starts in August if that's what's needed. Polanco heads to the DL with his sports hernia, a move designed to get him ready for coming back. It's a retro move, but the plan is that Polanco will get used to doing activities on it and try to strengthen around it, while figuring out what works as far as pre- and postgame treatment. It's a smart plan since surgery is officially out until after the season.

The Mets have been soft-pedaling all the discussions about Reyes and his return. They've been decidedly negative, actually, which is a huge difference from the normal pattern. It's as if the smart guys in the front office decided that there was a better way to handle these things. Terry Collins has been the first and last word to the media, with a lot less leaks, which is usually a positive indication (even as it makes my job a bit harder.) Reyes is scheduled to run on Friday with a chance of coming back next Tuesday at the minimum, but sources tell me that Reyes is "almost definitely" coming back next Tuesday. They tell me that he's met all the bilateral strength tests, that it's recovering well, and that this is just a matter of figuring out how to strengthen around the area that's failed twice. More importantly, Reyes is very comfortable with the process and personnel. The way they've handled these two incidents might be keeping them the leader to have Reyes next year, risk and all.

I had an error in Wednesday's UTK and a mistake. The error was listing the Giants 3B as "Pedro" Sandoval, rather than Pablo. The mistake was in forgetting just how good Ryan Vogelsong has been this season. I apologize for both ... No question about who's throwing bombs at Hanley Ramirez. The idea that a minor shoulder injury would hold him out is ludicrous, but then again, this Marlins organization is just that bad ... Phil Humber took a liner right off his face Thursday. He walked off the field but looked shaken, as you'd expect. We'll have to see if there's any concussion, but he's very lucky ... David Ortiz is out for another week, but the bursitis in his heel is not a long-term concern ... Torii Hunter got caught in the team's hyperbaric chamber. While a bit funny, it's surprising to me that the Angels have a hyperbaric chamber. Some players use them, especially in football, but this is the first I've heard of a team unit ... The Twins are juggling their lineup with several DL possibilities. Watch this team closely in daily leagues, because it's likely to be a series of moves ... Joe Blanton is going to start throwing next week. He's got one chance to come back, and if there's any issue, he's going to be shut down. At best, he'll be an extra arm in the bullpen ... Marco Scutaro's injury gets a bit tougher to deal with while Kevin Youkilis is on the DL. The Sox will try to let him rest but could be forced to make a move if the spasms continue into the weekend ... If you're worried about CC Sabathia's recent results, don't be. He's focused on pitch efficiency. ... Ryan Westmoreland, still coming back from brain surgery, is scheduled to face live pitching. He's not hitting yet -- just tracking -- but it's another step in a nice story. We need more of those in baseball these days.

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