If I tried to explain how today made me feel, words would fail me and I’d just smile. Sitting around with a cool beverage, XM Radio, a big screen, and chatting with readers via my wireless iBook–well, it just doesn’t get much better than that until I figure out a way to do all that outside. If every day could be like that, well, it’d be a pretty great world.
I’ll be out of this space for the next couple of days, as I’ll be in Atlanta on Wednesday evening for a book signing. I hope to see a lot of you there. I’d better–Atlanta has been one of the most requested locations for a Pizza Feed in the past.
For now, we’ll look at the injuries and other health-related stories, powered by the afterglow of a great Opening Day …
- The big off-field story of the day was the release of a list of minor leaguers who tested positive for drugs under the minor-league program. The list had been distributed to teams late last week, so there was a lag between reporting to the teams and to the press, a delay that seemed to show up in the Alex Sanchez story as well.
The 38 positive tests included some prospects, such as the A’s Javier Herrera, the Cubs’ Matt Craig, and the Mariners’ Ryan Christianson. The 38 players indicate a 4.1% positive rate. Sources tell me that another list for teams that train in Florida will be forthcoming this week with between 60 and 80 names. Again, the substances were not released to the public, although one source let me know that the teams are told the substance that triggered the positive, meaning that while it is not publicly reported, it will likely be difficult to keep confidential. The positive rate surprises me, but we don’t have the substances, which makes it difficult to assess if substances that were recently added to the list or have long half-lives were the problem. Also, among the tests were one that was done in the off-season and one that was a third offense, resulting in a 60-day penalty. We’ll continue to follow this one closely.
- The Sanchez story was a bit muted on Opening Day. It was discussed in brief during most games that I listened to, but it’s hard to arouse much ire for someone who is relatively unknown and outside the storyline. For his part, Sanchez and his agent continue to go with the “tainted supplement” defense. Sources inside baseball indicate that Sanchez definitely tested positive while with the Tigers and that the Devil Rays were not notified until just before it was publicly announced. They also told me–and several others apparently–that the defense isn’t going to hold up since the positive was for a Schedule III steroid. There’s no appeal that will rescind the suspension under the new policy, so all Sanchez could get is his paycheck restored, and perhaps his reputation.
- On the injury front, the Mets learned that Kris Benson‘s strained pectoral muscle is more serious than originally thought and placed him on the DL. Benson had already been pushed back, and off days make it possible for him to not miss only one start. The Mets wanted to bring Aaron Heilman up to take that start. Unfortunately, the option rules didn’t allow that. Benson will undergo normal treatments for the next two weeks before taking up a throwing program and a likely rehab trip to the minors. He will likely miss most of April, opening up some possibilities for Heilman or Jose Santiago to show what they can do.
- Mike Cameron missed Opening Day and his right-field debut due to continued problems with his left wrist. A cortisone shot hasn’t had a lot of short-term benefit, leaving Cameron iffy for the Wednesday game. No one is mentioning the DL yet, though the move to bring Victor Diaz up when Benson went to the list certainly is a negative indication. Cameron will have to not only get the inflammation out, but also prove he can swing a bat effectively without causing the problem to return. No one has a good sense of how long that will take.
- Back concerns held Javy Lopez back slightly last year. As I wrote in the Orioles THR, the lack of a credible backup, which forced a big workload on Lopez, was a problem. Lopez left the very first game yesterday with a stiff lower back. The O’s called it precautionary, but video showed that Lopez wasn’t moving well in the first inning and showed progressively slower and slower feet.
- Bobby Crosby made it back from his hand/wrist injury in time for Opening Day, though it didn’t end like he’d hoped. Crosby left mid-game and ended his day with an MRI on his back. While the results were termed inconclusive, the very fact that an MRI was thought necessary is pretty negative. We’ll be watching this one closely. In the interim, Marco Scutaro will handle shortstop duties for the A’s.
- The rehab of Wade Miller is hitting a crossroads. The Red Sox are ready to send him to throw, either at extended spring training or A ball. It’s an important decision, since a move to the minors would start the 30-day rehab clock. If Miller heads to the minors, then he’ll be in Boston well ahead of even the most optimistic expectations. Reports from his Sunday outing were positive on his velocity, though his stamina still hasn’t had a significant test.
- Quick Cuts: Rick Ankiel was released by the Cardinals, meaning he cleared waivers and could sign a new, cheaper minor-league deal. He’s likely to sign with the Cards and head to Double-A Springfield … Ryan Anderson was officially released by the Mariners. TNSTAAPP, baby … The Dodgers may never get a real look at Norihiro Nakamura. The Japanese star is frustrated with missing the Dodgers roster and is discussing heading back to his homeland. I’m not sure what the contract situation would be there, but the move wouldn’t seem to affect the Dodgers adversely … Ramon Ortiz passed his last test. He and his problematic groin will make the expected Friday start for his new Reds team … Lots of negative but non-detailed reports on Jayson Werth. By all accounts, it doesn’t look like he’ll be back anytime soon.