RETURN OF THE
The ban on
amphetamines, which took effect this season, may bring back pitching gems such
as the no-hitter, the most recent of which was Randy Johnson's perfect game for
Arizona 23 months ago. The current drought is the majors' longest in 20 years.
The AL hasn't had one since Derek Lowe turned the trick for Boston four years
ago this month, the league's longest dry spell since a span of five years, five
months from 1940 to '45.
"The ban on
amphetamines will change the game this year," one NL general manager says.
"I'm especially thinking about those day games after night games on the
road, when teams face someone with electric stuff like Jake Peavy (right). In
the past, guys would bean up to get their bodies to respond. Without that
stuff, I think you're going to see more high-strikeout games--16, 17, 18
Baseball tested about 60 players for performance-enhancing drugs in the
off-season (the maximum permitted by the joint agreement with the union), and
none of the tests came up positive, according to a source familiar with the
results. Those 60 players--representing 5% of the total number who are subject
to testing (anyone on a 40-man roster)--were given "hours" of advance
notice, the source says. Testers even traveled overseas, according to the
source, to establish that no player should assume he is off-limits. Still, the
60 samples pale next to the 2,000 that the NFL collects in its off-season, and
the number should be increased in the next collective bargaining agreement.
R.A. STANDS FOR
It was a bad week
for Rangers righthander R.A. Dickey (left). Last Thursday the 31-year-old tied
a post-1900 record by giving up six homers (on only 32 swings) in a 10-6 loss
to the Tigers. The next day he was shipped to the minors with an ERA
reminiscent of Cy Young--or at least the year of Young's first win: 18.90.
?Already with a
strike against him--he's working for a G.M. ( Pat Gillick) who didn't hire
him--Phillies manager Charlie Manuel, off to a 1-5 start, will grease his exit
if he foolishly continues to bat Aaron Rowand (career OBP: .337) as high as
second and monster slugger Ryan Howard (right) as far down as sixth, with David
Bell, a career .255 hitter, as Howard's protection.
starting pitchers are at least 40 or will get there this year: Jamie Moyer,
Randy Johnson, Kenny Rogers, Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, Tim Wakefield and Curt
Schilling. At week's end they were a combined 7-4 with a 3.35 ERA.
Dodgers closer Eric Gagne told concerned club officials that he felt fine, even
though his velocity was lagging. But when he needed surgery last Friday to
remove a nerve from his elbow--he's expected to miss two months--he confessed
that he had been pitching with discomfort. Former Devil Rays closer Danys Baez
is 2 for 2 in save chances as Gagne's replacement.