While the world (or some small part of it) is focused on the Roger Clemens trial, there was another hearing taking place in Buffalo that could affect many more athletes, and current ones at that. Michael McCann
Under MLB's drug policy, a player like Rodriguez who used hGH, would be subject to suspension. It is treated exactly like a positive test under a provision called "nonanalytic positive", or N.A.P. Several players have already been suspended under this policy, though there have been some inconsistencies in how it's been applied. (This is likely due to an appeals process that is not disclosed.) A doctor's declaration that he administered the substance would likely be enough to create a N.A.P., but there's one other key fact that would need to be established: the date(s) of use. If Rodriguez was given hGH, knowingly or unknowingly, anytime after 2004, he would be subject to the penalty in place at the time. ('04 penalties were of shorter duration and changed in '06.) It is unlikely that multiple uses, even over a period of years, would result in more than a single N.A,P. It's also important to note that if Rodriguez were hit with a N.A.P., it would be his first violation.
Powered by my iPad, wifi on the flight and the miracles of technology, on to the injuries:
Nothing really changed with Reyes, but his injury history took more priority than initially expected. The Mets
Lester's lat strain is a classic kinetic chain injury. On Wednesday night, I happened to have one of the world's leading experts on the kinetic chain,
The Red Sox are also being cautious with their precious hamstring. The team is targeting July 18 for Crawford's return from the DL. That's a bit later than expected, mostly due to a bit of conservative treatment and the All-Star break's influence on his rehab schedule. The extra time isn't going to make fantasy owners any happier, but Crawford should be full go upon his return. Given some of his struggles at the plate this year, one scout from an opposing team questioned whether or not the extra rehab was also a bit of extra work. "Maybe they're worried a bit about rust on top of his poor play. He could also go back to pressing, like he was at the start of the season. The problem I see is that the Sox don't seem to be able to fix anything with him and the guy is coachable." Some of Crawford's struggles this year can be pinned on injury, but I'm not sensing any panic that the Sox bought high on Crawford just yet.
Part of Damon's legend is his durability, the kind that has let him rack up counting stats along the way. At this end stage of his career, he's still durable, but he doesn't heal quite as well. Where he previously could play through things, now he needs a couple days. What took a couple days can now mean a DL stint. That said, getting hit by a ball is mostly bad luck -- unless you're Pablo Sandoval, where pitchers are throwing at him to stop his last second step outs and Nomar-level annoyances in the batter's box. Damon's bruised hand forced a bit of lineup juggling for Joe Maddon, but the team is very flexible that way. Damon thinks he'll be back by the weekend, but it wouldn't stun me if the conservative Rays medical staff held him out through the break.
The news is a bit worse with Davis. While the strained forearm is mild, some have been reminded of last season, when Davis was a bit derailed by a mild shoulder strain. He's got everything but durability, and really, even that's not too bad. I'm not sure Davis will ever be a 200-inning starter, but at this level, he can be very useful. He'll likely only miss one start due to the break and come back without issue.
I don't seem to write about the Pirates much. That's not a bad thing in this case. As a player once told me, "I never want to see you write my name." (I have. A couple times.) That's because medhead stats are a leading indicator. The Pirates medical staff, led by Brad Henderson, won my award a couple years back and have had solid year-to-year and multiyear injury stats as well.
But no one can stop everything. Alvarez has struggled this season and his quad strain offered an easy way to get him some minor league swings. It's worked pretty well, as he's hitting like he did last time he was in Indy, giving the Pirates hopes that he'll hit like he did last time he came up for him. Then again, there have been some young players who have been crushed by a sophomore slump, and Alvarez has to show that he can make the necessary adjustments. The team is likely to give him the full 30 days of a rehab assignment unless he forces his way up.
The Pirates will also be without Cedeno for a while as he recovers from a concussion. Chase d'Arnaud will fill in as the team begins to push toward a pivotal month of baseball.