Major League Baseball could start in-season testing for human growth hormone next year.
Each player was given a blood test for HGH during spring training as part of the labor contract that was agreed to in November, which allows blood testing during the offseason and spring training, and if there is reasonable cause.
Union head Michael Weiner, speaking to the Baseball Writers’ Association of America before Tuesday night’s All-Star Game, said players will be discussing whether to expand testing to the regular season in 2013.
“We have just elected, as we do in June of even-number years, a new executive board, a new group of player reps, and over the second half of the season we’ll be trying to generate what the consensus is,” Weiner said. “There is at least a possibility, I’m not going to predict which way it’s going to go, but there’s at least a possibility that we could have in-season testing of some form as soon as next year.”
The blood testing that began in spring training could be expanded to the postseason, but that doesn’t appear likely to happen this year.
“Every single 40-man roster player was tested for blood this spring. I believe, I’m not certain, but believe that is the most athletes that have ever been tested for blood in any sport at any time, to have 1,200 tests,” Weiner said. “What our agreement says is that the parties would get together to discuss the possibility of extending random testing into the postseason. Those discussions will happen at some point at the end of the year.”
No major leaguer has been announced as testing positive for HGH. Under the new labor contract, the identity of substances that cause positive tests is made public.
HGH is detectable only in blood tests, not in the urine tests that baseball has used since 2004.
Weiner also addressed the case of Milwaukee outfielder Ryan Braun, whose positive drug test last October was overturned by arbitrator Shyam Das after the National League Most Valuable Player argued the specified collection procedures were not followed. The drug collector didn’t take the urine sample directly from Miller Park to a Federal Express office.
Players and management have since rewritten the collection procedures.
“I don’t think it was resolved on a technicality. Ryan doesn’t think it was resolved on a technicality,” Weiner said. “It was a fundamental piece of the agreement that all the procedures have to be observed, and they weren’t. But that’s in the eye of the beholder – whether you want to call that a fundamental error, whether you want to call that a technicality. What we proved was this was not a valid collection, and therefore collection had to be thrown out.”
■ INTERLEAGUE PLAY – The number of games between interleague rivals such as the Yankees and Mets, Cubs and White Sox, and Dodgers and Angels will be reduced under Major League Baseball’s new schedule format for 2013.
Players’ union head Michael Weiner said that in most instances, the rivalry games will be cut from six to either four or three. The new format was caused by next year’s move of the Houston Astros to the American League, creating two 15-team circuits and the need for interleague play throughout the season.
“It wasn’t fair to have six games against an opponent that other teams in your division didn’t,” Weiner said Tuesday during a question-and-answer session with the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. “The Mets, for example, would say, ‘Why do we have to play the Yankees six times every single year, when some of our division opponents are playing teams that aren’t traditionally as strong? We understand we’ve got to play the Yankees every year. That’s OK. Why should we play six?'”
There will be an exception in years the rivals play the opposite division – for instance, the Cubs and White Sox would play six times in years the NL Central plays the AL Central.
Baseball’s new labor contract says teams will play up to 20 interleague games a year. Weiner said the total is likely to be close to the maximum.
■ RED SOX - Commissioner Bud Selig has gone to Boston ownership with complaints over a film Bobby Valentine produced about Dominican prospects.
“Ballplayer: Pelotero,” a documentary that tracks corruption in the process of signing Dominican amateurs, opens Friday.
“I expressed our concerns to Red Sox ownership, and that was it. What they did from there is up to them,” Selig said during a question-and-answer session with the Baseball Writers’ Association of America. “There were a lot of things that were inaccurate.”
MLB said many of the issues have been rectified since 2009, the period covered by the film.
Valentine, in his first season as Red Sox manager, said in a text message he did not think he would respond.
■ METS - New York pitcher Dillon Gee has undergone surgery to remove a blood clot from an artery in his throwing shoulder.
The team said no timetable has been set for the right-hander’s return, but he will miss his next start and likely will be put on the disabled list.
Gee is 6-7 this season with a 4.10 ERA. He has been one of the Mets’ most effective pitchers recently, with a 3.34 ERA in the last month.