MLB: Weiner says increasing drug penalties possible
DUNEDIN, Fla. – Baseball union head Michael Weiner said Monday there have been talks about increasing the penalties for violating baseball’s drug testing program.
“There are certainly some players who have expressed that,” Weiner said. “We’ve had discussions with the commissioner’s office. If it turns out that we have a different penalty structure because that’s what players are interested in, that’s what the owners are interested in, it will be for 2014.”
Weiner spoke to the media after he met with the Toronto Blue Jays as part of his annual tour of spring training camps.
“On one hand, we do have the toughest penalties of any team sport,” Weiner said. “Fifty games is more than you’d see for the first time in football and hockey and basketball. More and more players are vocal about the desire to have a clean game. More and More players are vocal about being willing to accept sacrifices in terms of testing in order to make sure we have a clean game.”
Changes to the drug program must be approved by both Major League Baseball and the players’ union.
“One of the strengths of our Joint Drug Testing Program is that the bargaining parties have an ongoing dialogue about the program and potential changes that can make it even more effective,” Rob Manfred, baseball’s executive vice president for economics and league affairs, said in a statement. “We look forward to discussions with the MLBPA about changes that may be needed to respond to recent developments.”
One area where increased attention helped encourage change was in testing for human growth hormone.
“The players approved this change, and it was an important change to have year around blood testing to improve the possibility of detection for the use of HGH,” Weiner said. “It was something the players felt very strongly about. The players at this point have very little patience for players that are trying to cheat the system, and understand that year around HGH testing is an important component.”
HGH testing began last year but was limited to spring training.
Also, Weiner says he will be speaking with the players who were named in a report by The Miami New Times as having allegedly purchased performance-enhancing drugs from a defunct Florida anti-aging clinic.
“Whether there’s anything to these stories or not, they’re (the players) sick of this issue,” Weiner said. “So, it’s natural for a lot of guys to say, maybe we need different penalties. We’ll have that discussion over the course of 2013.”
Weiner succeeded Donald Fehr as union head in 2009, and this tour is his first of spring training since announcing in August he is being treated for a brain tumor.
Rapuano, Tschida, Cousins retire as MLB umpires: Major League Baseball has reshuffled its umpire roster for this season after the retirements of crew chiefs Ed Rapuano, Tim Tschida and Derryl Cousins.
MLB announced the moves Monday.
Jim Joyce, Ted Barrett and Fieldin Culbreth have been promoted to crew chiefs. MLB also hired Vic Carapazza, Manny Gonzalez and Alan Porter as full-time staff members after they split time between the majors and minors in recent years.
The 66-year-old Cousins worked 4,496 big league games, which had been the most among current umpires and ranked seventh all-time. Rapuano is 55 years old and Tschida is 52.
The 47-year-old Barrett becomes the youngest crew chief in the majors. He is the only umpire to be the plate umpire in two perfect games, including Matt Cain’s gem last season.
Dickey makes Blue Jays’ debut: NL Cy Young Award winner R.A. Dickey gave up two runs and four hits in his Toronto spring training debut, but he was outpitched by fellow knuckleballer Steven Wright for two innings in the Boston Red Sox split squad’s 4-2 victory over the Blue Jays Monday.
Wright, a minor leaguer, gave up two hits and struck out three over two scoreless innings. Former Red Sox knuckleballer Tim Wakefield, who is working with Wright, was at the game.
Red Sox manager John Farrell, who moved from Toronto to Boston during the offseason after managing the Blue Jays in 2011 and ’12, was roundly booed by fans when his name was announced during the pregame starting lineup introductions. This was the first time Farrell has faced his former team.
Upton hits mammoth HR, Braves beat Miami: Justin Upton hit one of the longest home runs ever seen at Atlanta’s spring training complex, a towering drive that cleared the grass berm beyond left field, as the Braves defeated the Miami Marlins, 7-6, Monday.
Upton’s teammates estimated the homer went at least 450 feet. It was his first hit of spring since joining the Braves in a blockbuster trade with Arizona.
The Marlins led 1-0 when Jason Heyward opened the fourth with a drive over the right-field wall. Upton made it back-to-back homers off loser Scott Maine, and brother B.J. Upton chipped in with a double, coming around to score on a stolen base and wild pitch.
Atlanta extended the lead to 7-1 before Miami put together a five-run eighth. Anthony Varvaro worked the ninth for a save.
Brantley spiked in Indians’ win over Athletics: Cleveland left fielder Michael Brantley needed stitches in his left forearm after being spiked Monday during the Indians’ 14-10 win over the Oakland Athletics.
Brantley was spiked by third baseman Josh Donaldson in a play that ended the third inning. Brantley, who hit .288 with 60 RBI last season, was taken to a hospital for stitches. He will be re-evaluated today.
Justin Masterson threw two perfect innings for Cleveland in his first start of the spring. Matt Carson and Yan Gomes homered for the Indians, who improved to 5-0 in exhibition play under new manager Terry Francona.
Shane Peterson and 2010 first-round draft pick Michael Choice homered for the Athletics.
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