MLB to expand blood testing for HGH

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MLB to expand blood testing for HGH

PARADISE VALLEY, Ariz. -- Major League Baseball will test for human growth hormone throughout the regular season and increase efforts to detect abnormal levels of testosterone.

Players were subject to blood testing for HGH during spring training last year, and Thursday's agreement between management and the players' association expands that throughout the season. Those are in addition to urine tests for other performance-enhancing drugs.

Under the changes to baseball's drug agreement, the World Anti-Doping Agency laboratory in Laval, Quebec, will keep records of each player, including his baseline ratio of testosterone to epitestosterone, and will conduct Carbon Isotope Ratio Mass Spectrometry (IRMS) tests of any urine specimens that "vary materially."

"This is a proud and a great day for baseball," commissioner Bud Selig said following two days of owners' meetings. "We'll continue to be a leader in this field and do what we have to do."

The announcement came one day after steroid-tainted stars Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Sammy Sosa failed to gain election to the Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility.

Commenting on the timing, Selig noted the drug program changes had long been in the works "but it wasn't too bad, was it?"

Selig reflected on how far baseball had come on performance enhancing drug issues.

"This is remarkable when you think of where we were 10, 12, 15 years ago and where we are today," he said. "Nobody could have dreamed it."

Baseball began random drug testing in 2003, testing with penalties the following year and suspensions for first offenders in 2005. Initial penalties were lengthened from 10 days to 50 games in 2006, when illegal amphetamines were banned. The number of tests has gradually increased over the past decade.

Selig called the latest change a "yet another indication how far this sport has come."

Rob Manfred, baseball's executive vice president for economics and league affairs, said each player will be tested at least once.

"Players want a program that is tough, scientifically accurate, backed by the latest proven scientific methods, and fair," union head Michael Weiner said in a statement. "I believe these changes firmly support the players' desires while protecting their legal rights."

Selig praised the cooperation of the players association, once a staunch opponent of drug testing, in agreeing to the expansion.

"Michael Weiner and the union deserve credit," Selig said. "Way back when they were having a lot of problems I didn't give them credit, but they do."

Christiane Ayotte, director of the Canadian laboratory, said that the addition of random blood testing and a "longitudinal profiling program makes baseball's program second to none in detecting and deterring the use of synthetic HGH and testosterone."

She said the program compares favorably with any program conducted by WADA.

HGH testing remains a contentious issue in the National Football League. At a hearing last month, U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings, the ranking Democrat on the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, accused the NFL players union of trying to back out of HGH testing.

NFLPA spokesman George Atallah said at the time that the union is not backing out of anything but was looking to resolve scientific issues surrounding the tests. HGH testing is part of the 10-year labor agreement reached in 2011 but protocols must be agreed to by both sides.

At the time of last month's congressional hearing, NFL senior vice president Adolpho Birch called the union's insistence on a population study to determine whether current HGH tests are appropriate a delay tactic that threatened that league's leadership in drug testing matters.

"Major League Baseball and the players' union have moved a long way from the inadequate policies that were in place when Congress first addressed ballplayers' use of steroids." siaid Henry Waxman, ranking Democrat on the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

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Best of MLB: Indians top Verlander, Tigers for MLB season-high 9th straight win

Best of MLB: Indians top Verlander, Tigers for MLB season-high 9th straight win

DETROIT -- Lonnie Chisenhall had four hits, including one of Cleveland's four home runs off Justin Verlander in the fifth inning, and the streaking Indians won their ninth straight game Sunday by beating Detroit 9-3 to remain unbeaten in nine meetings with the Tigers this season.

Juan Uribe, Tyler Naquin and Mike Napoli also went deep for the Indians. Chisenhall was 4 for 4 with a triple and three RBIs.

Cleveland overcame three homers by former teammates, including two by Victor Martinez, to sweep Detroit for the third time this year. The Indians have outscored the Tigers 60-20 in nine games.

Only once before had Verlander allowed four homers in a start -- also against the Indians in 2007. According to the Elias Sports Bureau and Fox Sports Detroit, he became the first pitcher in franchise history to give up four in one inning.

Verlander (7-6) allowed eight runs on nine hits and two walks in 4 2/3 innings (see full recap).

Chris Sale earns MLB-high 13th win of season vs. Blue Jays
CHICAGO -- Chris Sale pitched eight innings of two-run ball to become the majors' first 13-game winner, and the Chicago White Sox beat the Toronto Blue Jays 5-2 on Sunday.

Tim Anderson and J.B. Shuck homered to help Chicago take two of three from slumping Toronto, which has dropped five of seven. The White Sox returned to .500 (38-38) with their fifth win in seven games.

Sale (13-2) allowed five hits, struck out seven and walked two in his fourth straight victory. The ace left-hander matched his win total from all of 2015 when he was 13-11 (see full recap).

Jose Fernandez strikes out 13 Cubs in Marlins' win
MIAMI -- Jose Fernandez delivered another gem at Marlins Park, allowing one run in seven innings and striking out 13 Sunday to help Miami beat the faltering Chicago Cubs, 6-1.

The Marlins won three of four from the injury-depleted Cubs, who went 1-6 for the week but still have baseball's best record.

Fernandez improved his career record at home to 24-1 with a 1.48 ERA, and this year the right-hander has been pretty good everywhere -- he's 10-3 with a 2.28 ERA and 138 strikeouts.

Giancarlo Stanton doubled and scored the go-ahead run in the sixth for the Marlins, who went 7-3 on their homestand. At 41-35, they're six games above .500 for the first time since June 2012, their first season in Marlins Park (see full recap).

Instant Replay: Giants 8, Phillies 7

Instant Replay: Giants 8, Phillies 7

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO – The Phillies battled back from three deficits, but could not do it a fourth time and lost 8-7 to the San Francisco Giants on Sunday afternoon.

Conor Gillaspie’s RBI hit against Severino Gonzalez in the bottom of the ninth won it for the Giants. They have won 32 of their last 42 games. The Phillies have lost 28 of 36.

The big story in this game was the continued struggles of Aaron Nola. He did not pitch past the fourth inning for the fourth straight start.

Nola arrived in the majors 11 months ago and recorded a 3.12 ERA in his first 25 big-league starts. His ERA in his last four is a troubling 15.23.

Starting pitching report
Nola failed to pitch past the fourth inning for the fourth straight start. He went 3 1/3 innings, gave up a career-high 10 hits and five runs. He also hit three batters.

Here’s how deep Nola’s slump is: He has pitched just 13 innings in his last four starts and he has been tagged for 32 hits and 22 earned runs. He has walked seven batters and hit four over that span. He had a 2.65 ERA in his first 12 starts this season. It has ballooned to 4.45 over his last four.

Cueto gave up eight hits and six runs over six innings. He hadn’t given up more than two runs in nine straight starts. He entered the game with a 2.06 ERA. He had a 1.07 ERA, the best in the majors, in his previous nine starts.

Bullpen report
Brett Oberholtzer gave up a run in 2 2/3 innings pitched.

David Hernandez surrendered a booming RBI double to Angel Pagan with two outs in the bottom of the seventh as the Giants pushed home the go-ahead run. Hernandez has been tagged for 10 runs over 6 1/3 innings in his last six outings.

Gonzalez pitched a scoreless eighth, but took the loss in the ninth. He gave up two hits and a run in the frame.

At the plate
The Giants had 16 hits. The Phillies had 12.

The Phillies trailed 5-1 after three innings, but scored four two-out runs the next two innings to tie the game at 5-5 in the fifth. Carlos Ruiz and Freddy Galvis had run-scoring hits in the fourth and Cody Asche tied it with a two-run single in the fifth.

The Giants went up, 6-5, with a run in bottom of the sixth, but Odubel Herrera tied it again with a long solo homer to center to lead off the seventh.

The Giants went up, 7-6, in the seventh and Asche tied it with a hit in the top of the eighth.

Pagan had four hits and two RBIs for the Giants.

ICYMI
Herrera is staying in centerfield for now (see story).

Up next
The Phillies play the Diamondbacks in Arizona the next three days. Here are the pitching matchups:

Monday night – RHP Vince Velasquez (5-2, 3.65) vs. LHP Robbie Ray (4-6, 4.59)

Tuesday night – RHP Jerad Eickhoff (5-9, 3.36) vs. RHP Zack Greinke (10-3, 3.61)

Wednesday afternoon – RHP Zach Eflin (0-2, 6.28) vs. RHP Archie Bradley (3-3, 4.83)

The Phillies have made a roster move to move Velasquez from the disabled list to the roster. Reliever Elvis Araujo has been optioned to Triple A to make room for Velasquez and Adam Morgan will move to the bullpen. 

Odubel Herrera staying in centerfield for Phillies - for now

Odubel Herrera staying in centerfield for Phillies - for now

SAN FRANCISCO – Odubel Herrera was back in centerfield for the Phillies on Sunday afternoon.

Manager Pete Mackanin said there are no plans to move Herrera to right field.

Speculation of such a move arose Saturday night when Herrera, who was not in the starting lineup for that night’s game, took balls in right field before the game.

“He’s versatile enough that you never know down the road what could happen,” Mackanin said. “But there’s nothing imminent. He’s my centerfielder.”

Herrera is a converted second baseman who made a solid transition to center last season. He made just five errors in 136 games. This season he has seven errors and on this trip has made a couple of non-plays that could have been scored errors. One of those non-plays came in Friday night’s 5-4 loss to the Giants. The next day, Herrera was on the bench. Mackanin said his decision to sit Herrera did not reflect unhappiness with the player’s performance. He said he simply wanted more right-handed bats in the lineup against San Francisco lefty Madison Bumgarner and therefore used Peter Bourjos in center.

Mackanin said he wanted Herrera to take balls in right field before Saturday’s game simply to change his perspective. He added that he was not trying to send the player a message, but if the player takes it that way …

“It's like sometimes you have a right-handed hitter take practice swings left-handed to change the perspective,” Mackanin said.

“There are no plans to move him. If he reads something into it, good, maybe he’ll think he’d better do better.”

Herrera was a second baseman in the Texas system before moving to the outfield and being selected by the Phillies in the Rule 5 draft in December 2014. There are no plans to move Herrera to second base. In fact, scouts who saw him play the position say he played it poorly. It's highly doubtful a team that values defense such as the Phillies would ever make that move.

If the Phillies ever got around to the point where they wanted to move Herrera to a corner outfield spot, Bourjos would be an option in center. So would Aaron Altherr when he returns from the disabled list later this season. Roman Quinn projects as a top centerfielder, but he has had trouble putting together a healthy season and is on the DL at Double A Reading. He has missed significant development time throughout his minor-league career.