MLB News and Notes: Indians Hurler Earns Suspension

There’s no baseball yet, but with each passing day, we get closer to the return of the season, even if we don’t yet know when that will be. In the meantime, let’s get caught up on all of the baseball-related news from the last couple of days.

Positive Test

While testing for COVID-19 isn’t yet widespread, MLB is still conducting PED testing. We know this because Cleveland Indians reliever Emmanuel Clase was hit with an 80-game suspension this week after testing positive for an anabolic steroid called Boldenone.

Clase was one of the key acquisitions for Cleveland when they traded ace Corey Kluber to the Texas Rangers over the winter. The Indians were expecting him to be a key part of their bullpen after he registered a 2.31 ERA in 21 appearances last season.

The 80-game suspension will start when the 2020 regular season gets underway, meaning he could end up missing most or all of the season. If the season lasts less than 80 games, it’s unclear if the 80-game suspension could carry over into 2021.

All Healed

Speaking of the Rangers, the delayed start to the season has turned into good news for outfielder Willie Calhoun, who fractured his jaw after getting hit by a pitch in early March. Roughly two months later, Calhoun is close to fully recovered.

He will reportedly have some numbness in his right cheek for a few more months and is still trying to gain back the weight that he lost when he didn’t have full use of his jaw. However, Calhoun should be good to go when the season eventually gets underway.

He’s expected to be the primary left fielder for the Rangers this season after a breakout campaign in 2019 in which he hit .269 with an OPS of .848.

Draft Day

Like the NFL, MLB is still planning to hold its draft amidst the pandemic, albeit with some alterations. However, the Players’ Association and the league aren’t on the same page regarding the format.

The two sides have agreed to at least five rounds in the draft, but the players are pushing for as many rounds as possible with draft picks receiving their full slot value with regard to their signing bonus. Meanwhile, the owners are trying to reduce the cost of signing players, given the financial losses of not playing games.

In the bigger picture, this is just another disagreement over money between the owners and players, which could potentially spill over when the two sides start to seriously negotiate a way to start the season.

Not Calling It Quits

The ongoing pandemic and delayed start to the season has given many players time to consider their future, but not veteran slugger Albert Pujols. Despite being in the last year of his contract with the Angels, Pujols says he’s not thinking about retirement.

He’s not saying for certain that he’ll be back in 2021 but wants to be clear that the door is open, saying: “It’s my last year under contract, but that doesn’t mean I can’t keep playing.”

Having just turned 40 in January, Pujols is clearly not the same player he once was. However, he managed to hit .244 with 23 home runs and an OPS of .734 last year, so he’s not washed up just yet.

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